By Katherine Verances Marfal
A few years back, someone like Michael Hackett, Billy Ray Bates, Norman Black and Tony Harris invaded the Philippine Basketball Association. These reinforcements set numerous championships, statistical records and relentless moments and memories in the eyes of the Filipino fans. No doubt, the Philippines tagged as one of the best destinations for the international players to prove themselves. Most of them have found their place in the history books of local basketball. Until now, new breeds of talent from other countries continue to arrive in the local basketball scene and most of them never regret staying here. In the recent years, various discussions came out about bringing an import to the upcoming battles of Smart Gilas RP team in different international games. In addition to that, most of those personnel are willing to be naturalized as Filipinos.
However, it seemed that this trend is also adapted also by different collegiate leagues in the country like Universities and Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Some schools opted to recruit imports to be able to strengthen their lineups and chances in contending competitively in the tournament. Acquisition of Nigerian behemoth Sam Ekwe is considered as the biggest factor why San Beda College Red Lions built its own dynasty in three years in NCAA. Aside from that, other colleges and universities are also benefiting from having these players like Sudan Daniel of San Beda, who seemed a perfect replacement for Ekwe and Niki Nhoundu of Far Eastern University and Emjei of Jose Rizal University; both are versatile forwards who can put their muscles on the floor.
This season 73 of UAAP, another set of international flavors is already starting to make noise, not only in their respective schools but also in the entire league.
Emmanuel Mbe of National University, Austin Manyara and William Stinett of Adamson University are expecting to play major roles in their school’s campaign not only this season but in the upcoming years.
(Katherine Verances Marfal is a freelance writer. Among the publications she writes for are the Manila Bulletin, Sports Digest, Panorama and Pilipino Star Ngayon. She is also a Web Content Writer and is a graduate of Philippine Normal University).