A new league for Pinay Ballers soon

The Link
Rey Joble

Posted on May 18, 2015

I’m back, or should I say, it’s good to be back, this time in a new media outfit for the inaugural edition of this column.

Let me use this opportunity to thank my former boss, Riera Mallari of The New Standard, for giving me a break to write a weekly column. I’m so grateful for BusinessWorld’s Editor-in-Chief Roby Alampay and Sports Editor Francisco Baltazar for letting me continue this platform of bridging the past and the present in Philippine sports.

So here it goes.

In 1998, the Philippine Basketball League, then the country’s premier amateur commercial league, formed a league for women cage players. Created by then commissioner Yeng Guiao, it was called the Women’s Philippine Basketball League.

It was a perfect league for the country’s lady ballers to showcase their talent and a venue for them to continue playing the game they loved, especially after ending their varsity career or serving the national team. It’s something they could call a league of their own.

But it wasn’t sustained in the long run, stalling the dreams of the country’s cagebelles who are seriously trying to build a playing career.

Ewon Arayi, the most experienced player currently seeing action for the Perlas Pilipinas squad, is already planning for life after the national team and has her eyes set on putting up a league for women.

In fact, Arayi had already started it earlier this year.

“I’ve already started it early this year. For a start, nakakuha ako ng (I got) 28 teams divided into two groups -- 14 from the developmental and 14 in the open division,” Ms. Arayi said.

In the developmental division, the players are composed of employees from call centers/business process outsourcing companies who are fond of playing basketball and those former varsity players who were not able to excel previously but want to continue playing.

In the open division, players who played for the national team and varsity level who still want to build a career in basketball, have their chance to continue playing through this new league called “Pinay Ballers League.”

According to Ms. Arayi, several countries in Southeast Asia have ongoing leagues for women, which is the biggest reason why our lady ballers cannot match the success of their male counterparts, who have been ruling the SEA basketball event since 1989.

“’Yung Thailand and Malaysia, mayroon silang liga para sa mga babae, ’yun ang advantage nila (Thailand and Malaysia have their women’s leagues, that is their advantage),” said Ms. Arayi. “Tayo, hindi natin na-sustain. Kailangan natin na magkaroon ng liga para maipakita at magkaroon ng opportunity ’yung mga katulad naming alumni na makapaglaro pa rin even after serving the national team. Sayang naman ’yung talent naming na ipinagkaloob ng Diyos. (We did not sustain our league. We need to have a league to show and give an opportunity to those like our alumni that they can still play even after serving the national team. It would be a waste of our God-given talent.”

Dioceldo Sy, whose Blackwater is currently the backer of the Perlas Pilipinas national team which is preparing for the Southeast Asian Games, is committed to support Arayi’s project.

Sy’s Ever Bilena squad has won all the three stagings of the WPBL and with the talent influx of lady players, he believes it’s high time women’s basketball should be given priority as well.

The Pinay Ballers League took off high and it plans to go higher.

Ms. Arayi is currently on her final tour of duty with the national team program, but she is determined to carry the league and provide a venue for lady players who love the game just like she does.