Chito Salud leaves behind a bigger, ‘stronger’ PBA
Video by Mark Giongco/INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines —The league was dying and the players were just in it for the money.
That was the impression several seasons ago when PBA Commissioner Chito Salud was first tasked to lead a flailing league, which was once the best in Asia, back to its glory days.
Salud, who is leaving his post as the league’s head at the end of this season, couldn’t forget the first season as commissioner when the league wasn’t as prominent as it used to be.
“I do remember the first time I was tasked to make the opening speech during the 36th season, I made my consultations with the fans, with our team owners, with our stakeholders,” Salud said.
“And what was the sentiment at the time? Humihina na po ang PBA, meron na pong boksing, meron ng football, marami ng iba’t-ibang forms of entertainment, mga players ng PBA hindi na naglalaro with heart, gusto na lang sumweldo.”
“That was the sentiment at that time. That was then. It is different now. Today the PBA is stronger in its 40th year and more relevant more than ever.”
Five years later, the PBA is bigger than ever—literally—after expanding to a record of 12 teams with Blackwater and Kia joining the mix.
It also proved it can still draw a huge crowd. In fact, a whopping 52,612 paying patrons flocked to newly-opened Philippine Arena to open the 2014-2015 season.
It was also during Salud’s term that the country’s men’s basketball team, bannered by PBA players, made it back to world prominence following decades of mediocrity.
And with the league in good hands, Salud thinks there’s no better time to step down than now.
“After five years of being commissioner, I think this is the right time to pass the baton to a new and fresh leadership, a fresh face with a fresh voice, with fresh ideas and will take this league to greater heights,” Salud said in a press conference formally announcing his resignation as commissioner on Sunday after the end of the current season.
“I think it’s really time to move on, to give way for someone to continue the games that we’ve had for the last five years.” added Salud. “I really have a personal timeline for this assignment as PBA commissioner of four to five years and I think we’re there.”