Let Kirk Long Play in the PBA!

My friend Carlo Ricohermoso posted an interesting article a while back, on allowing Ateneo’s Philippine-born, American guard Kirk Long to play in the PBA. Long, according to the article, has lived all his in the Philippines, attending local schools and playing amongst local players until the university level.

But PBA rules strictly indicate that only natural-born Filipino citizens with Filipino lineage can qualify for Asia’s first play for pay league. Despite being born in the Philippines, Long’s parents are Americans. Long isn’t a Filipino citizen by birth in the eyes of the law.

To let Kirk play in the PBA would go against the league rules, even if Long is more Filipino than Sonny Alvarado and Davonn Harp combined.

I am not as well-versed in local hoops as my erstwhile track training partner, but I know for a fact how the influx of the so-called “Fil-shams” bathed the PBA in controversy. The subject of foreign coaches is dicey, as local coaching groups oppose each and every prominent appointment of a non-Filipino bench tactician. The opposition is understandable. A slot in the PBA – whether as a player or a coach – is a prestigious and increasingly scarce resources.

In the Philippine Star article, Arben Santos argues that “Kirk Long has practically served nine years of residency in Philippine basketball.” According to the behind-the-scenes basketball insider  “He’s [Long] been a role model and he’s not dominant.”

Long’s college Norman Black opines: “I think the PBA should consider allowing foreign players who’ve played high school and college in the country to join the draft. That would mean an eight or nine-year residence, disqualifying those who come in only to play in the seniors.”

Alex Compton was given special import status when he finally played in the PBA in 2008. But the then thirty-something Compton was at the twilight of his career. Instead of a mere season, the 23-year old Long is staring at a much longer tenure as pro baller.

To the head honchos of the league, let Kirk Long play in the PBA!

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