PBA legend Mon Fernandez, also known as ‘El Presidente’ in Philippine basketball, believes Thirdy Ravena and Kai Sotto made the right decision to play abroad to further their careers.
Fernandez, who won a record of 19 PBA championships with four Most Valuable Player awards, said tournaments in Japan and the United States where Ravena and Sotto are slated to compete have a higher level compared here.
“An athlete is only as good as his competition. If I want to improve my game, I have to go to higher competition,” he said during Thursday’s Usapang Isports by TOPS held online.
“I would like to assume that competition in those areas are much higher than ours… If it were me, I’ll definitely get that.”
Ravena is joining the San-En NeoPhoenix as an Asian import in Japan’s pro league while Sotto signs with the NBA G League.
Fernandez admitted he’d only seen glimpses of Sotto playing, but he believes in the future of the 18-year-old, 7-foot-2 player.
“The fact na kinuha siya ng scout abroad means they believe in his abilities… It’s just a matter of maturity physically and mentally kasi bata pa naman siya,” Fernandez said.
“Napakalaki ng future niya. It’s good na pinili niya to go abroad to have that chance of getting pitted at the highest level of competition possible.”
Fernandez said the foreign acquisition of Ravena and Sotto shows that international leagues believe in the talents of Filipino players.
Players nowadays are also fortunate to be able to compete against their foreign counterparts.
“In our case, yung years ko with the PBA from 1975 to 1990, kami-kami lang naglalaban. Yung level of competition, year in, year out was the same. Of course, may improvement, but iba yung nakakalaban ka sa international competitions,” he said.
While Fernandez thinks the level of competition is higher abroad, the former national team member said the PBA is doing everything it can to improve the quality of the game.
“I think nasa individual athletes na yan, how they can improve themselves. Lumalaban naman sila internationally ngayon, napipili naman sila sa national team,” he said.