So young, so rich

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE developmental pool of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) may well be called the ‘Young Millionaires’ Club’ from now on.

At least half of the 18-man training team had been offered contracts worth millions by the SBP, ensuring that players will stay with the pool for the next three years or so.

SBP Executive Director Noli Eala said the offer was formally made yesterday, with the players given until Sunday whether to take or leave the contract.

Each of those tendered a deal received a minimum of two years and maximum of three with a provision to renew it shortly after it expires.

Eala refused to bare the amount given to the players, but admitted one of them is set to receive P6 million out of the staggering annual budget of P14 million poured in to the developmental pool by Smart and SBP president and telecommunication magnate Manny V. Pangilinan.

Among the players already offered contracts include reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player (MVP) Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Rookie of the Year Ryan Buenafe, Chris Tiu, JR Cawaling, Mark Baroca, RJ Jasul, Jayson Ballesteros, Marcy Arellano, Ogie Menor and Rey Guevarra.

“By Sunday, we will know who will be committed. But this is something worth it.” Eala said.

The SBP concept is similar to the successful Northern Consolidated Corp. (NCC) formula spearheaded by former basketball project director Danding Cojuangco in the 80s, when some of the country’s top collegiate and amateur players such as Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim, Jerry Codinera, among others, were kept in a national pool well provided by the NCC.

Eala said the contracts offered largely depend on the status of the player, some of whom are still in college while the others are projected to be bound for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) by next year.

“Of course, hindi naman lahat pare-pareho ang kontrata. For example, Mark Barroca is only 21 years old and still in college. So he still has at least three years before he’ll be eligible to play in the pro league, kaya ang offer sa kanya is not in the same level as compared to others,” he said.

But the SBP executive director assured that the amount of contract is something the players themselves were not expecting.

“They were awed by it,” he added. “Unlike in other leagues where a cap is being implemented, sa amin wala. Sky’s the limit.”

Eala said the SBP model serves the players in good stead, stressing that ‘they are already earning money at a young age, and at the same time, is assured of doing what they love best.

“One more thing, this will prolong their PBA career dahil pag dumating `yung time that they decided to turn pro, talagang hinog na hinog na sila nun.”

Conflict with the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) where most of the players are currently under contract, has also been dispelled by the SBP, Eala adding that he already had talks with league official Butch Maniego regarding the set up.

“Kami naman, as long as the PBL team owners can assure us that they would freely lend us their players and would keep practicing with the national pool, wala kaming nakikitang problema.

“It’s just a matter of opening the communication lines,” he said.