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PBA fans clamoring for dominant ‘imports’

More News from Manolo R. Iñigo

With the kind of problems confronting him, PBA Commissioner Chito Salud is not expected to turn things around so quickly, especially with a roster of so-so “imports” he has right now.
At the moment, Philippine Basketball Association fans are clamoring for the good old days when high-performing “imports” were the most dominant dribblers during the mid-1970s and 1990 eras.
As far as I can recall, the PBA enjoyed unprecedented popularity during its early years because of the presence of quality imports like Billy Ray Bates and Cyrus Mann of Crispa, Byron “Snake” Jones of Toyota, multi-awarded Norman Black, who has settled here, Shell’s Bobby Parks, another longtime Philippine resident, Michael Hackett and Pop Cola’s Tony Harris, who scored a single-game record of 105 points which has remained unbroken in the storied history of the PBA.
The league had its best years under soft-spoken Commissioner Leo Prieto and brilliant lawyer Rodrigo Salud, father of Chito.
Launched in 1975 as Asia’s first professional cage loop, the PBA has survived nine Olympics and an equal number of Asian Games, including six Philippine presidents (Marcos, Cory Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, Gloria Arroyo and Cory’s son, President Aquino). Yet several nagging problems stay such as dwindling gate receipts, lack of a permanent venue and complaints against biased officiating.
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With the Olympic Games set to fire off in London this July, Filipino sports leaders who will join the trip are well-advised to follow the legacy of the late Dr. Regino Ylanan, the all-around athlete and sportsman who built an honest reputation of returning his excess dollar allowance after every travel abroad.
A Philippine Sportswriters Association awardee in 1999 as “Sports Leader of the Millenium,” Ylanan served for 33 years as secretary-treasurer of the defunct Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation, forerunner of the Philippine Olympic Committee.
He was a surgeon, graduating from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 1918. Later, Dr. Ylanan obtained a Bachelor of Physical Education degree from the world-famous Springfield College in Massachusetts in 1920. At Springfield, he was much older than his classmates because he was already a doctor of medicine then when he took up the PE course.
Upon his return, he was appointed PE director at UP, a position he held for seven years. In 1924, he founded and became the first president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), then the most glamorous and most popular collegiate organization in the country.
An exemplary sports official, Dr. Ylanan was the track and field coach of 100- and 200-meter runner David Nepomuceno at the Paris Olympics in 1924 when the Philippines made her Olympic debut. During the 1928 Amsterdam Games, he was the medical officer of the PH delegation of the team that was headed by the legendary high jumper Simeon Toribio and swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso, who won the country’s first Olympic medal, a bronze.
At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he was delegation head where the basketball team skippered by Ambrosio Padilla placed fifth, shooter Martin Gison finished third in the 50-meter smallbore rifle competitions and 400m low hurdles champion Miguel White captured the bronze.
Ylanan started his athletic career as a baseball catcher of the Cebu High School and UP teams. But it was in athletics where he left large footprints, emerging as national pentathlon, shot put and discus throw champion in the inaugural Far Eastern Games held in Manila in 1913. Born on Sept. 7, 1889 in Bogo, Cebu, Dr. Regino Ylanan died of a heart attack while writing a book in 1963 at age 74.

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • bojie

    Hi Mr. Inigo. I am John Enriquez the Grandson of the Late Celestino “Aling” Enriquez.  Last Sept. 2000, passed away and during his wake my Father Bojie Enriquez, have some news articles about my Lolo Aling of which you published in your column about my Lolo’s achivements and accomplishments since the time of your Idol and best friend the late Tirso Del Rosario.  If we can request back copies of your artcles so that we can put it in my Lolo’s memoirs of achivements.  Hoping that you can furbish us the said copies and I hope you can grant this humble request.  You can reach me thru my e-mail at or

  • Arden Alcantara

    Agreed. Basketball is exploding worldwide with China and Turkey even affording bonafide NBA players like D-Will and the Denver 3.

    Best to scrap the import laden conference since a lot of the players are imported anyway.

  • Manuel Yaptangco

    Let’s face it, the PBA simply can’t compete with other basketball leagues around the globe where the pay is much better. When the PBA was formed in 1975, the were only a few professional basketball leagues to speak of. So it wasn’t a big deal back then when the likes of Billy Ray Bates came to our shores and showcased his wares. But the game of basketball has changed so much over the years. To be sure, it has become a global game where professional leagues abound in far more affluent countries. As a result, there has been a dearth of talented imports in the PBA over the years. I guess you might say, that’s the way the ball bounces.

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