PBA: How Reyes, TNT convinced players to stay with Tropang GIGA amid B.League offers

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 01 2021 01:13 PM

TNT head coach Chot Reyes. PBA Media Bureau.
TNT head coach Chot Reyes. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA, Philippines -- TNT stars Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario both received offers from B.League teams but they are "not going anywhere," head coach Chot Reyes confirmed on Sunday.

On the "Call to Arms" podcast with Nikko Ramos, Reyes revealed that both players have signed three-year contract extensions with the Tropang GIGA, despite having "offers dangled in front of them from Japan."

"There was a very real possibility that we would lose them. So, there was nothing we could offer that would match the number, the dollar sign," admitted Reyes, who on Friday steered TNT to the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup title.

Pogoy and Rosario both played key roles in their run to the championship, and both have long been tipped to be big factors in the future of the franchise. 

But in recent months, several Filipino players -- including former TNT stalwart Ray Parks Jr. -- have made the move to Japan to play in the B.League and it has been reported that Japanese ball clubs continue to look at the Philippines for possible imports.

Pogoy and Rosario were among the players they eyed, but Reyes said they were successful in convincing the pair to stay with TNT instead.

"For me, (there are) a lot of things beyond our control. There's nothing I can do as a basketball, as a PBA coach about it. But what I can control though, is the environment in my team," he explained to Ramos. 

"(I can) make our culture and our environment so engaging for the players that they won't want to leave," he said. 

There are reports that Pogoy and Rosario were offered deals of $35,000 a month -- or well over P1.7 million -- to play in the B.League. PBA salaries for veterans are capped at P450,000 per month. Reyes acknowledged that they cannot quite match the money being offered by the B.League clubs.

TNT stars Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario. PBA Media Bureau.
TNT stars Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario. PBA Media Bureau.

"But the one thing we could offer are the other things. You know, how we are family here, all of those things," he said. "And Roger signs, and Troy signs. So we have those two guys for the next three years, they're not going anywhere."

"Again, there's a lot of things, the offers of the other country, of Japan or whoever, there's nothing we can do about that. But we have to make them feel so happy playing here, that they're willing to give up a difference of a few thousand dollars monthly, to stay here, to stay with their family, with their kids, because they like it here, and because they know that they are growing and developing here," he added.

"For players, that's very, very important."

Reyes stressed that it was crucial for their players to know that they "make a difference" in their team.

"Here, you matter," he said. "That's what we're making the players feel. Here, they make a difference, here, they matter. Their voice is heard. They can say what they want, they can call their own plays, they can say, 'No coach, that's not working. Why don't we do this?' Okay, kayo bahala, 'di ba? So that's how we're doing it from our end."

Even with Pogoy and Rosario already signed to maximum deals, Reyes knows TNT can't take its eye off the ball. He anticipates that center Poy Erram -- whose contract is also about to expire -- may also receive offers from other countries.

Players from other teams, such as Robert Bolick of NorthPort and Christian Standhardinger of Barangay Ginebra, are reportedly being recruited by B.League ball clubs as well. For Reyes, this development is not surprising.

"It's been happening globally in every industry all over the world. I mean, that's what globalization does, right? So it was just a matter of time for it to come to the PBA," said Reyes, who returned to the PBA as a head coach after a nine-year absence earlier this year.

"I think we're kidding ourselves if we say that it's not going to happen. It was going to happen, and now it's here," he added.

Former TNT star Ray Parks now plays for Nagoya in the B.League. (c) B.LEAGUE
Former TNT star Ray Parks now plays for Nagoya in the B.League. (c) B.LEAGUE

There are already nine Filipinos playing in both divisions of the B.League, including two former PBA stars Parks and Kiefer Ravena of the NLEX Road Warriors. 

Taiwan's T1 League and the Korean Basketball League have also emerged as potential destinations. Even the National Basketball League (NBL) in Australia features a Filipino in Kai Sotto. 

Reyes acknowledged that the "entire ecosystem" of the PBA will need to come together and discuss the issue, which his own team's governor, Ricky Vargas, has raised the alarm about.

"The PBA has to come together, the governors have to come together and meet, but it's also a systemic issue. The entire ecosystem has to come together," he said.