Tang, Alapag understand pros and cons of 'imports' in collegiate leagues

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2020 04:34 PM

MANILA - The NCAA recently doubled-down on its decision to ban foreign student-athletes from playing in the league, with an official claiming that the "imports" have done "more harm than good."

Management Committee chairman Fr. Vic Calvo of Colegio de San Juan de Letran said last week that the majority of the schools agree that the NCAA would be better off without foreign student-athletes.

"We realized na 'yung presence ng mga foreign players, as of the moment, has done more harm than good sa basketball," said Calvo.

College of St. Benilde coach TY Tang, who played Cameroonian center Clement Leutcheu, understands the reasons for the NCAA's decision. The league had come to the agreement ahead of Season 94, and the rule will come to full effect in Season 96.

"I would probably say (there are) pros and cons, having an import and non-import," Tang said during an appearance on the "Coaches Unfiltered" podcast.

"Having an import playing with us, I think it would just get everybody on a higher level of competition. Having a 6-foot-9 high-leaper, big, strong body in the paint -- that's gonna give our guards a hard time," he noted. 

"It just added spice on how we play the game," he added.

Leutcheu was a reliable slotman for St. Benilde, putting up 6.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in Season 95. Still, his presence wasn't enough to propel the Blazers to a Final 4 spot, as they finished the season with a 9-9 win-loss record.

Tang says that with no foreign student-athletes in any of the teams' rosters, then the local players have a chance to step up and show what they can.

"Considering our country today has been very much more competitive, (there's) a lot of raw talents in every corner of our islands," he said. "It's also a good opportunity for all these guys to be more inspired, and be more motivated to try and get better in their position."

Alab Pilipinas coach Jimmy Alapag, who appeared on the same podcast, noted that the NCAA was in a "tough situation" regarding the foreign student-athletes.

The former PBA Most Valuable Player sees the benefits in allowing the foreign student-athletes to play, as they raise the level of competitiveness in much the same way that imports do in the PBA.

"Just in terms of the size, the athleticism, you're forced when you're on the court to up your game," said Alapag. "And I think that's helpful to anyone."

"But on the flipside of that, there's also, 'Hey, are you taking an opportunity from someone else?' Yes, of course," he conceded. "So, not having imports obviously opens up opportunities for other players, so it's tough."

"But again, I think that imports who played in the past have been good for the college game, but you know, it's really something that the NCAA decides for themselves."

Only three foreign student-athletes played in the NCAA in Season 95: Leutcheu of St. Benilde, Mike Nzeusseu of Lyceum, and Donald Tankoua of San Beda.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).