Why Filipinos Find it Hard to Make it to the NBA
Is it that hard?
Philippines is a diverse country with full of surprises. It is a country with mixed races, has many languages and different traditions. Basketball is big in the Philippines. It is even bigger than the country's national sport which is "Sepak Takraw" or the country's very own martial arts, the "Arnis de Mano" or "Kali". Now the one million dollar question is, if its big in the country, why there are no Filipino players on the biggest Basketball league in the world? The NBA
I am a Filipino myself. And it hurts me to see that my fellow country men, though with lots of potential, will find it very hard to enter the NBA. Coach Eric Spoelstra is currently the head coach of the elite Miami Heat, but then he didn't play in the league. Raymond Townsend and Ricardo Brown were half Filipinos drafted in the NBA in the 80's or 90's. Currently, Warriors guard Nate Robinson is partly Filipino and just recently there is a rumor that Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins is 1/8 Flipino. But what do these people have in common? They are all not pure Filipinos.
Filipinos are skilled basketball players. Though majority are undersized when put in the NBA, we make it up with speed. I personally think this major concern starts with every Filipino kid learning to play basketball. Street basketball is where it all begins. Basketball in the street here in the Philippines is I think the main reason why our players can't make it in the NBA. Unlike in other countries, the point system of Philippine Street Basketball is very different than the 2 point 1 point scoring system of other countries.
Every basket made is just scored a single point. Whether its from a long jump shot or a drive to the lane,its just one point. So if your a kid trying to learn basketball in the street, and you love shooting the ball in long range, your teammates and even the harsh crowd will harass you for taking a low percentage shot. And besides, it will just count a single point, so its better to put the ball inside for a higher percentage shot.
The point is, this kind of foundation makes every Filipino basketball player a slasher or a low post guy. And its during the minor leagues that you can see how teens and amateur players showcase their physicality and don't even shoot from the three. And even they try to shoot behind the arc, they can hardly make a shot from out there.
Since Filipinos lack in size, it should be better if Filipinos learn to move the ball in and out. It would be better if Filipinos can improve with mid range shooting and shooting behind the arc because driving the ball with big defenders inside is going to be very difficult. Though there are some skilled professional players in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) who lack in size but can still manage to make a shot inside.
Having written that, the Philippine Sports Commission must establish a program for improving the quality of basketball in the Philippines. Basketball courts should be properly painted with a three point arc. Majority of basketball courts here don't have a three point line especially in remote towns and villages. Professional rules should be implemented in minor leagues to uplift the quality of players. And it would be very much better if NBA games can be watched freely everywhere without subscribing in cable tv companies. NBA games would surely influence the young kids who will watch how the pro's play. They can get idea how to play better and even learn simple plays like the Pick and Roll or the Pick and Pop.
Basketball is like a religion in the Philippines. Anywhere you go, no matter how remote the village is, you can always find a basketball court. It might take some time before a pure Filipino will make it in the NBA but the process of learning the game is always in the lives of every Filipino player.