Gilas: Players’ financial reward for playing for this team


Whenever the Philippine Basketball National Team suffers disasters in international competitions, blame for the results is always put on the leaders and coaches’ heads.

It is because there are habits of Philippine basketball stakeholders that are hard to break. And it is understandable. The Philippine Basketball Association is still a business at the end of the day. Companies form teams and compete in the league to promote their products, not to play basketball. Of course, they want to get to the playoffs and win championships because of the media mileage that goes along with it.

Thing is why are the players often given a pass because they supposedly have given their best and are doing the country a service?

I am to the opinion that the players recalibrate their mindset about playing for the team because a good showing while playing for this team could set off a financial reward opportunity.

They are actually the biggest losers whenever the national team fares badly in international competitions because a a poor performance may reflect traits and lack of skills that are undesirable in getting interest from prospecteive team employers

Financial reward opportunity

I wonder why cagers and volleyball players, in particular, continuously fail to see the financial reward attached in their playing for the national team.

We all remember a few years ago how Jason Castro got noticed by a Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) team because he was able to showcase his talent internationally and became Asia’a Best Pointguard back then.

I would have loved to see Castro play in the CBA against better, bigger opponents and see how he would fare. It is also a fact that a bigger pay would have been much available for Castro had he became successful in a stint with that league through accepting the offer.

Paul Zamar is another example. He showcased his talent internationally by becoming a thorn for his own country and Alab Pilipinas during the 2018 ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) championship series where he consistently sinking crucial baskets for Mono Vampire. As a result, a big pay day with Blackwater in the PBA ensued. I believed he might have been paid more had he stayed with Mono Vampire or any other team in the ABL.

I totally get it when he requested a trade from a potential starter position in Blackwater to a benchwarmer role in San Miguel Beer because of family ties, resulting to the diminishing his earning capability.

It was undeniable, though, that playing brilliant international basketball brought Zamar a better financial earning opportunity.

Pacquiao, Team Lakay Proofs

At the end of the day, sports are a livelihood for professional athletes and entertainment for the paying fans.

Manny Pacquiao and Team Lakay are the best proofs that if an athlete could entertain fans on an international level, it will result to big financial rewards.

Just look at the latest case for Team Lakay: Lito Adiwang’s $100,000 contract with ONE Championship. Adiwang will never see a payday of this magnitude if he was limited to entertaining the local audience only.

Financial reward mindset

Volleyball player Jaja Santiago is foregoing a national team stint because her Japanese mother club refuses to release her take the risk associated with it.

She says her refusal isn’t about money. I’m quite sure her decision is, however, partially about money. Part of her and her team’s reason is they don’t want to take the risk of jeopardizing her ability to play in the Japan tournament she is booked to appear for.

A lot will miss what Santiago will bring to the table for the national volleyball team and what their partnership could attain but I respect Santiago’s decision not to fight the refusal harder and am with her on the regard of trying to stay healthy for a pay check.

I’m all about players and athletes getting paid for their efforts and being unpatriotic has nothing to do with this situation. Had I been a basketball or volleyball player and involved in a conflict between earning a big payday and playing for the country, I would have chosen the big pay. You know, opportunities like the one she got don’t come very often and the financial reward should be capitalized when given.

It is the other players turn to capitalize her absence. Whoever is taking the slot and the leadership role vacated by Santiago better think of bringing it up a notch and produce something the country could cheer about. Hopefully, it will also attract some attention and bring along a financial reward, be it in our local leagues or in leagues abroad.

To be clear, while I don’t have a problem with athletes selecting to avoid a financial risk by not playing for their national teams, I still firmly believe that playing and performing well for the national team in a well-publicized international event is the best way to expose one’s talent and be recognized on a global stage.

Aguilar’s NBA stint opportunity

Japeth Aguilar is often my example of this financial reward aspect because he was the first full-blooded Filipino who had a real shot of making it to the NBA. To refresh everybody’s memory, he was a last cut of the Santa Cruz Warriors, the G-League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, at one time during his early playing days.

He had the perfect body built for the NBA and is suited for a premier position in that league, the small forward.

The reason given why he was cut was that he was raw. They saw a lot lacking in his game. Primarily, he lacked the abilities to convert consistently from three point land and defending of the opposing player.

The cure to these deficiencies was solely on Aguilar’s head. It took him so long to develop a decent defensive stance against players his size and never developed a consistent three point shot.

I understand his skill set back then are enough to make him the first round draft choice in the PBA but would it have been better if he landed in the NBA and the big pay check that goes along with it?

An iconic YouTube clip of Steve Kerr during his early days as coach of the Warriors makes my point. In this clip, he would raise his arms in disbelief as Stephen Curry fired a three pointer from the parking lot, only to turn back and smile in humility when the attempt went straight through the net.

Since then, the Warriors became the advocates of taking long three points shots regularly like they were lay-ups.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone is not a firm believer of a heavy volume three point shot attempts since he started his triangle offense system.

But what if Aguilar is showing he consistently makes threes over and over again?  I’m sure he would Cone will forced to ingrate this aspect in his system.

I’m also sure, even with his advanced age today, many foreign ball clubs will take more notice of and probably be interested in the nicely built Aguilar if he has the ability to consistently convert three point shots.

Players gotta do it

A lot of talk due to the recent Gilas debacle is the failure of government agencies to develop talents in the grass roots. I get this.

But it is still a two-way street that should take place. Athletes should bring the effort to develop and improve their games because they will be the first benefactor of whatever investments they will make.

Players like Troy Rosario, Kai Sotto, and Terrence Romeo who either have a body built or have shown skills suitable for foreign leagues should not stop developing different aspects of their game while they are relatively young.

With the right efforts, they can take advantage of the consistent appearances of the Philippines in international tournaments for better financial opportunities.

By: Armando M. Bolislis