SMC still supports Gilas five

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

The national basketball program can heave a sigh of relief. The current impasse in the PBA won’t affect Gilas Pilipinas’ preparation for the Fiba Asia World Cup qualifier.

The five-team half of the two factions split over the stint of Chito Narvasa as league commissioner issued a statement saying the bloc will “continue to make available its players to the Philippine team that is preparing for the Fiba Asia World Cup qualifier and other league functions.”

“We believe this should not be adversely affected by the board members’ differences in opinion,” the statement read.

“I’m happy; I am relieved,” said national coach Chot Reyes early Friday morning.

Several players from the SMC bloc have been part of the Gilas program, including Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio of Barangay Ginebra and reigning four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer, and national team officials were worried the current stalemate would disrupt preparations for the World Cup qualifiers this month.

Brokering a truce

The five teams also moved to broker a truce between the two factions, imploring members of the board of governors to refrain from making statements until a settlement has been reached.

The five-team group assigned PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial to open talks with the seven-team faction headed by Manny V. Pangilinan squads TNT, Meralco and NLEX.

“They all agreed to resolve this as quietly as possible,” Marcial told the Inquirer after talking to members of the seven-team group, which also includes Phoenix Petroleum, Blackwater, Rain or Shine and Alaska.

A major fissure cracked the board after the MVP-led bloc sought to terminate the services of Narvasa in a meeting early Thursday morning. Governors of the five-team faction—San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra, Star, GlobalPort and Kia—weren’t present during the meeting presided upon by incoming league chair Ramoncito Fernandez of NLEX.

The group issued a statement backing Narvasa.

League’s interest in mind

The board needs a three-fourths majority to oust Narvasa, putting the seven-team bloc a governor short of replacing the commissioner. But Narvasa needs the same number of votes to stay on as commissioner when the board meets in Los Angeles next week—thus the stalemate, which had the MVP group appointing long-time manager of operations and current deputy commissioner Rickie Santos as officer-in-charge.

“They (both parties) agreed that it is the PBA that is being hurt,” Marcial went on.

The board flies to Los Angeles in the United States on Nov. 10.

“With the best interest of the league in mind, we have come to an agreement to reach out to the other members of the board to resolve this impasse as a collegial body, not as individuals, to maintain the integrity of the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) and protect the interest of fans nationwide,” the five-team group’s statement said.


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