February 21, 2024

Time for the PBA to review the five-year sit-out rule?

Time for the PBA to review the five-year sit-out rule?

Filipino basketball players abroad may have a more viable return path to the country as the PBA is open to ease its rules, specifically the sit-out rule.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial says there have been proposals to review the five-year sit-out period, which was implemented back in 2021. And the PBA is open to reviewing them.  

“Pag-uusapan pa namin sa annual meeting namin," Marcial told News5 correspondent Martie Bautista. "Kung makakabuti naman sa lahat, bakit hindi?”

Under PBA rules, a player with an expired contract can go directly to free agency if his mother team does not offer him a new deal. If the mother team does offer a new deal, there are several layers into it. 

First, both sides have 30 days to negotiate that new deal. If the player wishes to decline the mother team's offer and explore options, the player can field offers from other teams after 30 days—like a free agent.

Almost. 

In this setup, the original team still has the option to match the offer from the other team within five days since the offer was made. If the player chooses to sign with the new team despite a matching offer from his current team, that player will be prohibited from playing in the PBA for five years. Thus, the "sit-out." 

If a player wants to return to the league before the five-year period is up, they can be reinstated within two years since the last contract expired, but only with their mother team—which retains its rights over the player. Go beyond two years, and the player has to complete the five-year sit-out. 

A similar guideline is also in effect for incoming PBA rookies.

Under the updated regulations, a rookie who qualifies to join the PBA Draft but chooses not to do so will now face a five-year waiting period before they are allowed to play in the league.

However, if they change their mind during the five-year sit-out, they can participate in the draft, but they must go through a "special lottery" system to be selected. Take note that this provision only applies to players who have been inactive for at least three years during the five-year waiting period.

With more players heading abroad, Marcial and the PBA may be pondering on relaxing their rules to entice these players to return home once their contracts end.

Several of the Filipino hoopers in Japan have signed multi-year deals with their respective teams. With the current rules in place, this means they’ll have to sit out a few more years before regaining PBA eligibility.

Marcial, meanwhile, reiterated he has no issue with Filipino cagers deciding to play abroad.

“Kung kikita sila doon, makakabuti sa pamilya nila, go ahead. Sa akin walang problema sa akin,” said Marcial.