League of the big boys | Inquirer Sports

League of the big boys

PBA superstars entitled to the league’s maximum salary live the good life but also save something for a rainy day
By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 02:46 AM October 16, 2016

What luxuries does a P420,000 monthly basic pay bring a marquee PBA player?

Let’s help you with some.

If you happen to visit the basement parking area of Araneta Coliseum in Cubao during games, you can feast your eyes on a handsome array of vehicles: Luxury cars like BMWs and Mercedes Benzes, gas-guzzlers like Camaros and Mustangs, and topnotch SUVs like Range Rovers and Audi Q7s.


Who will prevent certain players from driving Porches to the games?


Rolexes, Patek Philippes, Omega, Panerais and Bulgari timepieces are very common on players’ wrists after the games. Nothing unusual there, too.

Players have every right to enjoy the good life, especially if they are among the elite few who earn the maximum allowable monthly salary—an eye-popping athlete’s wage that balloons significantly when their teams make huge playoff runs.

“They have short careers in a very risky sport,” says Charlie Dy, a leading player-agent who handles several A-list players. “Top players are paid high because of that. They deserve it.”

Jeff Chan of Rain or Shine, Jimmy Alapag and Cliff Hodge of Meralco, Sonny Thoss and JV Casio of Alaska, Ranidel de Ocampo of TNT KaTropa are just some of the blue-chip players that Dy handles.

And because he knows that his players have worked hard to be where they are now Dy doesn’t mind if some of them indulge in material luxuries.

“They buy a luxury or sports car, it’s fine by me,” Dy said “I only remind them to look out for their fortunes, because theirs is really a short career.”


In the days of Alvin Patrimonio, Allan Caidic and Samboy Lim, when the maximum individual salary cap was still P500,000 a month (the PBA reduced the limit to P420,000 three years ago on the request of team owners), players really enjoyed the sunny side of life.

Some players failed to manage their fortunes properly, though, and now live day-to-day.

Remember the case of the crafty Red Bull point guard who now drives a pedicab for a living? Or the hulking former Ginebra power forward who, according to former teammates, has become so destitute he can’t afford to buy false teeth?

Such discomforts, tragedies if you like, are something the current crop of top players in the Philippine Basketball Association is trying to avoid. Many look for ways to invest their money while they’re still in the peak of their playing careers.

Take for instance, De Ocampo, who has a coconut farm in Quezon province, or Chan and Thoss whose respective wives have taken the initiative to go into businesses and make  sure that the fruit of their hubby’s labor will not go to waste.

In the PBA, maximum pay often comes with mouth-watering add-ons. The contracts of bigtime players have stipulations that could make them multimillionaires in just a season if their team pile up wins.

Strong, wealthy teams chase after the great players and these teams usually fatten the players’ already megabuck deals if they do their jobs right.

Fifteen-year veteran Asi Taulava, at 40 the oldest active player in the PBA, also commands the maximum P420,000 monthly salary like Arwind Santos, Marc Pingris, Mark Caguioa, Jason Castro, Marcio Lassiter and a few others more. Not surprisingly, all of them get more than their contracted pay.

Players also receive cash bonuses.

In the elimination round, each team pays each player an average of P6,000 per won game. This escalates to slightly P8,000 a contest in the quarterfinals and in the Final Four.

In the championship series, players get an average of P10,000 per win, not counting the rumoured double—or even triple—won-game bonuses from happy team owners.

If a player happens to belong to a team that wins all its games in a conference—11 in the elimination round, five in the quarterfinals and the Final Four, and four in the title series—it would mean an extra P140,000 income for one conference’s work.

But that is chump change compared to the by-phase bonuses these players get, especially if they already command the maximum pay.

Dy said that on the average, his big-name players get an extra month of their basic pay when their teams enter the quarterfinals and the semifinals, another 1 1/2 months if they make the title series, and two full months if the team wins the conference title.

That’s a cool 4.5 months of extra pay per conference in bonuses, equivalent to a staggering P1.89 million for just a couple of months’ work.

For these blue-chip stars, there’s the Grand Slam to look forward to as well. When San Mig Coffee completed a Triple Crown sweep in 2014, the team’s superstars reportedly made P10.71 million each for that season, not counting their won-game bonuses.

Superstar basketball players really rake in the moola. But, as in life, there is also the other end of the PBA pay pole.

Many players who belong to young teams get the league-mandated minimum of P50,000 a month, and some of them have very brief contracts they’re not even sure if they will be in the league next season. Bonuses don’t matter that much since they belong to inferior teams that seldom win anyway.

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Theirs is a story of everyday struggle to improve their craft. There’s no motivation more powerful than helping their teams win games. In the meantime, the Porches, the Benzes and the muscle cars are but a dream for them.

TAGS: Basketball, PBA

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