By Drei Christopher Villanueva
It won’t take long before our country’s cagebelles will take center stage and in full view of the public be it live at the coliseum or being watched on television – The PBA Board of Governors approved last Thursday the launching of the inaugural professional basketball league for women during a board meeting in Korea.
Its rebirth is what our women players were finally waiting for.
A few years ago, the Philippine Basketball League came up with a Women’s PBL where members of the Philippine squads were dispersed and school-based teams were able to join.
The PBL, though, couldn’t sustain it until it folded in 2011.
Now under the supervision of the PBA, Asia’s pioneering professional league, the women’s professional basketball league could take off soon and provide sanctuary to those women players looking for a league to play for after college.
The PBA has slowly brought to consciousness its women’s basketball program following the introduction of the women’s 3 x 3 two seasons ago. It was part of its half time showcase until last season, PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa decided to stage a full five-on-five game for women split into two teams, which was part of the All-Star festivities.
Narvasa loved the reception, saying, “I think the public loved it and they were able to see Filipinas displaying their talent on the court. Pinoys love basketball, no matter who is playing there, whether it’s the kids, men and women,” he added.
Curiously, having a professional league was a rip off from the program started by our Southeast Asian rivals Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, which all had their own professional basketball leagues for women.
“That’s the advantage of these countries over the Philippines in the past because they have a professional league while on the other hand, our women players didn’t have a league to play for after college,” said Perlas Pilipinas assistant coach Julie Amos, herself a former player of the Philippine women’s basketball team for many years.
Having our own professional league for women is somewhat a perfect timing as Perlas Pilipinas won the Gold medal in the SEABA Championship last September. Now that the Philippines has beaten our SEA neighbors, the Filipinas are setting their sights on capturing the country’s first ever gold medal in the biennial meet.
The Philippine women’s squad made its way back to level 1 competitions of the FIBA Asia Championship, which is slated next year.
The country’s cagebelles will also eye their first ever SEA Games gold in 2017 and following the team’s latest feat, head coach Patrick Aquino is upbeat of the team’s chances as the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is exercising measures to provide the squad a naturalized player.
“With the creation of the women’s professional basketball league under the PBA, plus the support being given to us by Blackwater and the SBP in providing us a naturalized player, we have a good chance of finally winning the SEA Games gold,” added Aquino. “The professional league for women will give us a deeper pool to select our players.”