On PBA Expansion – 16 Teams and PBA-Asia?

First, the PBA expands to 12 teams (and has the world’s first coach-politician-boxing-champ hybrid).

Next, the PBA is talking about the possibility of having Asian imports.

Then, the PBA wants to eventually expand to 16 teams (with the Hapee and SM groups waiting for the go signal).

Now, the PBA wants to take over Asia.

There's a possibility some or all of these guys will be
playing in the PBA soon!

When I first read about the PBA mulling over the prospect of expanding to as many as 16 teams by, at the earliest, the 2016-2017 season, I was quite skeptical (read about the perils of overexpansion here). Judging by how the rosters of current expansion squads NLEX, Blackwater, and Kia hardly inspire fandom, I felt that maybe expanding this fast would be a little too risky. You see, the keys to good expansion are: maintaining relative parity (which means putting up structures to give new teams a fair shot at being competitive) and generating adequate fan interest for the expansion clubs.

One can perhaps liken league expansion to having a whole pie currently being shared by (divided among) an X number of teams and then thinking of adding to that number. For the league to remain healthy (read: profitable and entertaining), the pie itself needs to expand/grow just as the number of teams goes up. Imagine eating a 12-inch pizza pie with five other friends one night and then sharing the same size pizza with seven other friends the following day. You’ll get diminishing returns, and when that happens to pro sports teams (especially teams that are not part of any big conglomerates), there is clear and present danger for those clubs to become unsustainable.

Admittedly, I was more than a little concerned that adding four more teams in the next couple of seasons might mean the PBA is expanding a little too aggressively.

My worries were tempered, however, when I read about the PBA also thinking of taking in Asian imports and even, one day, expanding its reach to other countries in the continent.

Based purely on theory and my unbridled passion for Asian hoops, I think that having Asian imports is definitely an initiative worth trying out. There are some reservations, of course, like the apparent linguistic and cultural barriers. Maybe for some big time and accomplished international hoopsters like Fadi El-Khatib, Hamed Haddadi, or even Zaid Abbas, salary could also be an issue (PBA teams will probably have to pay them the around same amount regular imports are paid to lure them to play in Manila). In addition, these guys have their own local leagues, most of which usually finish around the same time the PBA’s Commish Cup is at its height. Is playing in Manila, no matter how enticing or financially rewarding it might be, something these guys can fit in their schedules?

In spite of those roadblocks, though, I still think this idea has the potential to add a unique flavor to the PBA and give local fans something new to see, not to mention address issues of parity. At the very least, we’ll see a lot of different styles of play from Asian imports (whereas American imports almost exclusively play “a certain way”). West Asians like El-Khatib, Mahdi Kamrani, Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, and Sam Daghlas will probably remind hoop nuts of physical and deliberate Euro-style basketball, while East Asians like Tseng Wen-Ting (the long-haired Taiwanese big man), the Takeuchi twins (currently wreaking havoc in the Asian Games), Cho Sung-Min (ooooh, I’d love to see him on the same team as other shooters, like, say, JV Casio, RJ Jazul, and DonDon Hontiveros in Alaska), and perhaps even Sun Yue will use the classic combo of speed and shooting. Pinoys will have new idols to look up to and will relish seeing our own locals go up against the best and brightest of Asia on a constant basis.

Primarily, however, if ever the PBA does go down this road, it’ll be because the league wants a greater reach and a bigger audience – practically a more sizable market for all its ventures. One interesting analogy is local brand Bench actually using Korean basketball superstar Lee Seung-Jun as a commercial model to further expand its fanbase and reach. If the PBA wants to penetrate other Asian basketball markets, perhaps having Asian imports as de facto brand ambassadors does make sense.

Deep down, though, what I’m hoping is that this becomes a catalyst for a true Asian professional basketball league that can be patterned after the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. Perhaps someday we won’t even argue about whether having Asian imports is an issue because Asian players moving from one team to another (like Europeans, Americans, and Africans do in the Euroleague) in an Asian league will be commonplace (How about Arwind Santos playing for Ulsan Mobis Phoebus of Korea or Terrence Romeo being employed by Club Sagesse of Lebanon?). I believe that kind of development will really raise the level of competition in the continent and help all Asian teams further close the gap with countries from Europe and the Americas.

All in all, if done well, the PBA’s expanding to 16 teams, having Asian imports, and exploring the Asian market are all steps in a potentially brighter direction.

Next Post »
5 Comment

Enzo, how about focusing on our own backyard too by involving the other regions/provinces and thereby creating an actual national league?
Let's follow the korea's KBL where they moved away from being a Soul-centric league to become a nation-wide league that they are now.
Benhar Limpasan

I haven't received my prize to a contest back in January I think.


That might be more difficult in the Philippines than it is in Korea. Not all our provincial arenas are “up to PBA standards,” and our geography just makes it more difficult and more costly for state-of-the-art media equipment to be transported and maintained on a constant basis. In theory, however, it’s a very good idea. If only our media and PBA bigwigs can find a way to actually make it sustainable.

Oh, wait, is this the Master Gameface contest?


If the PBA really want to go Global, this should not be a tie-up. This should be Philippine based just like the NBA. The Korean teams (and other Asian, some of European, or African teams. Some of Europeans only because they have a large number of countries and teams prompting them to put up the Euroleague.) or just player/s from these countries can join the PBA not as an import but treated as Fil-Fors. An example for this is Japan can field their team but they must have at least a number of pure Filipino (say, 4 or 5 in the team) just like the number of Fil-Fors in a PBA team. There are a lot of advantages not only in PBA but for the Philippines as a whole:

1.) This is another way for Filipinos to have additional job opportunity in other non-Philippine team.
2.) We can combine basketball knowledge to these countries.
3.) We can expand (advertisement-wise) globally by playing all classification/elimination games here in the Philippines while the playoffs will be home and away format.

Imports will still be tapped as usual in two conferences but it's count will be deducted in the Fil-Fors (for a PBA team) and Koreans (if a Korean team) to maintain the job opportunities of the Filipinos:

And the PBA will be renamed PIBA (Philippine-Intranational Basketball Association). Sounding like FIBA is another plus ;-)

Intranational - within one nation; occuring or existing within a nation's boundaries.

But of course we will tweak the meaning a little bit because there are some games (in playoffs) that will played outside the country. Sort of, if they want to play in their homecourt, they should earn a playoff spot here in the Philippines. And we will be hospitable enough for them in that duration (they knew this for sure).

Same conference naming:
Fiesta Conference (as this also applies to all other countries)
Commissioner's Cup (as there will still be a commissioner of the league)
Governor's Cup (as the set-up will still be the same)

On Drafts:

All via lottery but the low seeded teams will have the higher chance of winning the best players in the draft pool. Tanking from collegiate and grass roots talent will also be avoided with this Draft system.

On Trades:

Conduits required for sister teams will still be in place and another conduit should be in place for a same country team trade. If we ask, what if sister team and at the same time within the country? Say, TNT-San Miguel-NLEX trade. Do we still need another team from another country as conduit? The answer is "yes" There should be another conduit to promote parity not just within the Philippines (or any other country) but a parity across the whole league.

This is a huge vision but is doable given we have the highly established PBA and the ever-supportive fans and companies in the country such as MVP, SMC, Ayala, Uytengzu, Tan, Sy, Romero, to name a few. Hey! This is great business expansion. Fans will enjoy, players will learn to each other, and the Philippines will be known as the NBA and Euroleague co-exist in the planet.

Hope Commissioner Chito Salud and the new Chairman of the Board Patrick Gregorio read and give this idea a chance. Think BIG! Realize BIGGER!



Tanga hindi nila mababasa yan dito. Isend mo via letter yan sa kanila suggestion mo kung talagang gusto mo magawa nila ito


It could work the other way around. If the PBA actually involved the other regions/provinces, the regions/provinces will probably find an incentive to invest in their arenas in the hopes of promoting their provinces via the basketball route.

Rather than the token Basketball game in a province, it probably might be better to have the league put down their roots in the provinces if they really want to involve the community as opposed to being just a business. Then again, that's just how I see it.

Also, what is the PBA Standard anyway? If anything, the Spanish Liga ACB stadias showed me the way that it ain't about seat capacity since a lot of them are twice smaller than MOA like the one we played in the past World Cup that has a capacity of just 7200.

Anyway, the contest was this one: http://www.hoopnut.com/2014/01/deandres-dunk-on-glenn-davis-better-in.html