"Straight from high school, Kiefer Ravena and Amer Baser would jump straight to pro play should the PBA board allow Smart Gilas’ to take over Barako Bull’s slot in the second conference.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas vice chairman Ricky Vargas said they intend to include the two Phl Youth standouts in the men’s training pool they hope will be allowed to play as guest team in the PBA reinforced tourney.
Ravena and Baser have just completed their eligibility in high school ball with Ateneo and San Beda, respectively.
If ever, they would be the first players to play in the PBA straight from high school since Terry Saldana of Letran."Patricia Hizon wrote in her blog that the second tournament would be single-elimination and last from February 20 to about May 15. Right now, Gilas is lobbying to be included in the third tournament as well, which would last from about May 20 to around August 19.
One might immediately think that this would undoubtedly improve the two players' games, having to play against professionals (and imports, given that the next two conferences would be import-laden), but past exposure has shown that such is not the case. Despite much trumpeting, Magi Sison and JR Cawaling's games didn't show a lot of improvement from being included in Smart Gilas, due to the fact that the system they run there is quite different from what their college coaches run. And being included on the squads is a lot different from getting actual playing time. I find it hard to see either of the two dislodging JV Casio, Chris Tiu or Mark Barroca, to be specific.
Furthermore, this might even hurt the two players as it means their summer practice with their respective schools will be shortened, or they will feel more tired, having to shuttle back and forth between the PBA and tournaments like the Fil-Oil Preseason Tournament.
Looking ahead, should Gilas get the nod to play for the third conference this year, that means both will miss the first month of their respective collegiate tournaments. Then, should either of them get the nod to play in the Olympic qualifiers, that might mean that they might strongly consider red-shirting their freshman years, due to the large number of absences they will incur. I would imagine there would be quite a few fans in red and blue in uproar over that.
Finally, wouldn't the national team be better off including some of the country's up and coming big men like Arnold Van Opstal, Ray Ray Parks or Brian Organ, considering how the Gilas squad seems to struggle against the big men of opposing teams?
While it is an honor to play for one's national team, it entails a lot of sacrifices, and we'll have to see if the two are willing to make them.
EDITED TO ADD:
Executive Director of SBP Noli Eala tweeted the following this morning:
"Plan to tap HS stars Keiffer n Amer to play 4 Gilas in PBA is gud n well-meaning altho I honestly doubt if it w/ help Gilas at ths time."[sic]I personally think the nod from the collegiate leagues is a given, but the fact that we're asking the question in the first place ought to make people wonder if this is really such a good idea.
"More importantly, I wonder what d UAAP n NCAA have to say abt this. Hope d 2 boys got the nod to play or they may get into trouble w/ rules."