Business as usual?
In a show of optimism, the Philippine Basketball Association released an official partial schedule for Season 43, with defending champion San Miguel Beer slated to battle Phoenix Petroleum at Araneta Coliseum.
The schedule also sets a Christmas Day bout between Barangay Ginebra and Magnolia Hotshots (the new name of the Purefoods franchise), a showdown known as the “Manila Clasico” in basketball circles.
The partial schedule lists games until Dec. 29, before the league goes on a New Year break.
The schedule features all the teams in the PBA, prompting questions as to whether the board has mended the rift that split it into two factions—the opening day match, in fact, features two teams on different sides of the split. The schedule’s signatory is Chito Narvasa, whose tenure as commissioner of the league is the line that divides the two blocs in the board.
Representatives from both blocs could not be reached for comment.
Narvasa also could not be reached for comment but a source revealed that the PBA office is busy preparing for opening day since it hasn’t “received any objection to the proposed schedule and other activities.”
The leadership crisis started when seven teams declared that they had lost confidence in Narvasa’s ability to steer the league. The seven include the three teams owned by Manny V. Pangilinan—TNT, Meralco and NLEX—and Rain or Shine, Alaska, Phoenix and Blackwater.
But five teams—SMC squads San Miguel Beer, Magnolia and Barangay Ginebra, Kia and GlobalPort—rallied behind Narvasa. Neither bloc has the numbers to either force the appointment of a new commissioner or retain Narvasa.
Before the PBA released the partial schedule, GlobalPort team owner and outgoing board chair Mikee Romero issued the strongest assurance so far that the league will open as scheduled on Dec. 17.
Addressing members of the PBA Press Corps during its annual awards night, Romero said the league’s governors would thresh out the problems hounding the board and patch things up among themselves.
“Rest assured, the 2018 PBA season will start on Dec. 17,” said Romero. “By next week, we will fix everything. This impasse will come to an end. I [can] confidently say that divisiveness, the impasse will [be] finished next week. Whatever group you’re part of, this will all end.
“Like a normal family, there will always be problems. We’re all passionate and that’s the reason why we got here. But it’s in the interest of all 12 corporations, all 12 teams to put up a league by Dec. 17,” he said. “The PBA is preparing a big opening day. The PBA will be as scheduled and will be business as usual. We will fix this.”
After the Dec. 17 opening featuring the Beermen and the Fuel Masters, the league shifts to San Juan Arena on Dec. 20, with Kia opening up the doubleheader against NLEX after which, Magnolia battles Alaska.
On Dec. 22, Blackwater takes on Meralco in the first game at Cuneta Astrodome while Rain or Shine takes on TNT.
There will be two more playdates for the year after the Christmas Day twinbill that will open with NLEX and GlobalPort at Philippine Arena. On Dec. 27, Phoenix takes on Kia and Meralco battles San Miguel. On Dec. 29, Blackwater tests Rain or Shine while TNT duels with Alaska.
Fears about a delayed opening or a season postponed indefinitely rose when several board members made an apparent boycott of the league’s annual planning session in Los Angeles last month.
The annual meeting was supposed to set the league direction and guidelines for the season.
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