Fair Play: The best Filipino money can buy

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Feb. 3 issue)
I have, in the past, disagreed with UC Law School Dean Baldomero Estenzo’s views on basketball players’ eligibility, especially in the Cesafi, but in his latest move, I salute him and support him.

It’s a crazy move, one that would be ridiculed and despised but I laud him for standing up.

What is Estenzo planning to do? To oppose the naturalization of NBA players JaValee McGee and Andray Blatche, so either one of them could suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba World Cup.

In short, the two will become the best Filipino basketball players money can buy.

Do we need them? Of course, we need them if we are to compete with the world’s best basketball teams, but even if we naturalize the next LeBron James, we aren’t exactly going to win the Fiba World Cup.

And isn’t our Fiba World Cup entry supposed to be an affirmation of Filipino basketball? And what is Filipino basketball? Having the best players money can buy?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, every country is doing it that’s why Fiba had to limit the roles of naturalized players but the way this thing is being done sucks big-time.

If McGee and Blatche want to be Filipinos, then that’s fine by me but let them go through the process, and not through this fast-tracked way that the bill’s sponsor, Antipolo Rep. Robbie Puno, wants.

Because what does that tell you? Show me the money and we’ll bend every rule, heck, we’ll give citizenship to ET if we can afford him. Isn’t the naturalization process there for a reason? So those who will become Pinoys are those who really want to?

SBP has money, no doubt about it. They have ridiculous amount of money but that shouldn’t give them license, just like what Atty. Estenzo thinks, to make a mockery of
our citizenship.

They’ve been planning to get McGee, as early as two years ago, but reports say that his $1 million insurance policy was deemed prohibitive. That was then, it must be more than $1 million now and that’s just for insurance and don’t tell me he’s going to play for free for “love of the country.”

Let him go through the process, and if he decides to stick with it, then let’s honor him with a Filipino citizenship. The way things are done now, it seems, it’s us who should be honored if he says yes and that shouldn’t be the case.

Marcus Douthit should be our last naturalized player and to be fair, Douthit is really trying to assimilate into the Pinoy culture.

If Gilas pushes through with its plans, McGee is expected to take the team to new heights, what with the 7-foot center for the Denver Nuggets manning the middle but is that what we really want?

To win with the best Filipino money can buy or to know where Filipino basketball really stand among the best in the world?

McGee has even professed interest for playing for the Philippines but let’s not kid ourselves. It’s all about the money.

Atty. Estenzo says he’s planning to recruit law students to help him with the plan but I hope like-minded law school deans—who value citizenship and the constitutional process in the granting of one—will join him.

This fight is not about basketball.

It's about what is right.


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