Gilas Pilipinas program director and concurrent TNT KaTropa assistant coach Tab Baldwin slammed the Philippine Basketball Association for its single-import conferences and called it a major flaw in the basketball landscape of the country.
“As an industry here, we have one major, major flaw in the basketball landscape of the Philippines, and it’s a regulatory flaw, and that is in the PBA, we have three conferences and two of those conferences are single-import conferences. This is a big mistake,” said Baldwin during a guesting gig on the premiere episode of Coaches Unfiltered by Charles Tiu, Anton Altamirano and Paolo Layug.
“We should never have a single import that is given all of the rules latitude that the imports are given here by the referees and by the administration of the PBA, and I do believe it is by the administration. And I do believe that it is based in the desire to have superstars as a marketing tool for the PBA,” he added.
The 62-year old American/New Zealander also cited the league’s apparent double-standards on officiating.
“The imports that come here are some very outstanding players, and they become superstars because of their statistical performances in so many examples and situations. So the question that this begs to me is: why aren’t these guys superstars in bigger leagues and in leagues where they could play 10 months a year and earn significantly greater salaries over the course of the year than they are in here? Why aren’t they? And the reason is they aren’t given the regulatory advantages by the referees that they’re given here,” explained Baldwin.
“So in other words, to put it in layman’s terms, a foul for a PBA player for a local player isn’t a foul on an import, and the foul of an import, that same foul on a local player isn’t a foul. So our local players are competitively disadvantaged in their ability to compete against the import players, and this is not the case in other countries,” he added.
With regards to PBA coaches, Baldwin believes that they would be better if imports aren’t given preferential treatment.
“So the PBA coaches are a smart lot. They’re good basketball coaches. But they could be much better if they were forced to coach much more, I believe. I think then they would show their real talents,” he continued. “But I think that because of the way our imports are treated here, it’s not sound thinking for a coach to not exploit what is obvious to every PBA coach, and that is to run your offensive systems through your import because you get an extraordinary number of free throws through the imports, you get an extraordinary number of easy basket opportunities through the imports, and you get an extraordinary number of situations where the local players literally get out of the way of the imports,” disclosed the head coach of Ateneo de Manila in the UAAP.
“I think that system, it creates a false landscape for our basketball coaches and our basketball players. I think it needs to be changed sooner rather than later.”