United we stand | Inquirer Sports

United we stand

Officials from both sides of board impasse vow to make coming PBA season bigger, better for basketball fans
/ 05:30 AM December 14, 2017

Quelling fears of a split board, the PBA’s governors or their representatives all showed up for the preseason press conference: (from left) MagnoliaHotshots governor Rene Pardo, Rain or Shine governor Mamerto Mondragon, Meralco alternate governor Ryan Gregorio, TNT assistant team manager Magnum Membrere, GlobalPort alternate governor Erick Arejola, Alaska governor Dickie Bachmann, GlobalPort governor and team owner and PBA chair Rep. Mikee Romero, NLEX governor and PBA vice chair Ramoncito Fernandez, Phoenix governor Raymond Zorilla, Kia governor Bobby Rosales, Blackwater governor Silliman Sy, San Miguel Beer governor RobertNon and Barangay Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua. —EARVIN PERIAS

In the strongest indication yet that the Philippine Basketball Association is ready to put behind it a leadership crisis that roused fears of a delayed season start, two officials belonging to the two factions of the board vowed to steer the league toward a bigger and better year for hoop fans.

Rep. Mikee Romero, the PBA chair, said that the board stands united behind pushing for the league’s continued progress, adding that the league would showcase the only thing that matters when it opens on Dec. 17.


“This Sunday, what we should be watching are the players, the superstars of Philippine basketball,” Romero told sports journalists during the preseason press conference for the 43rd season of Asia’s oldest play-for-pay league Wednesday at Okada Manila.


“Hindi pwedeng mawala ang PBA sa Pilipino, or ang Pilipino mawala sa PBA (We can never take the PBA from the Filipino, or the Filipino from the PBA),” he added, guaranteeing an opening ceremony at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.

“Admittedly there were a lot of Filipino fans that were turned off and they should be. I think basketball has to be played inside the basketball court. I’m a purist and I like the purity of the game.”

The statement was a followup to remarks he made during the PBA Press Corps awards night, where he boldly promised that the board of governors was ready to heal the fissures that split it into two blocs.

But unlike during the awards night, Romero had another voice backing his vow—and it came from the other side of the fence, a strong indication that the board is heading toward the right direction.

“What the board promises you is we will have a more exciting year and we’ll continue to delight the millions of fans of the PBA,” said PBA vice chair Ramoncito Fernandez of NLEX. “We promise that with your support, we will continue to make the PBA very relevant to the Filipinos.”

Fernandez was supposed to assume chairmanship of the board this season, but due to an apparent boycott by clubs associated with one of the warring blocs, the annual board meeting in Los Angeles that was also to serve as the turnover ceremony didn’t push through, leaving the structure of the board in status quo.


The warring groups, split over the tenure of commissioner Chito Narvasa, couldn’t seem to find a compromise to work on, giving rise to fears that the season opener would be pushed back at least a month—or postponed indefinitely.

Romero and Fernandez were among the 10 governors who showed up for the meeting to quash that apprehension. The two other teams were represented by other officials.

Also present were Robert Non of San Miguel, Alfrancis Chua of Ginebra, Rene Pardo of Magnolia, Dickie Bachmann of Alaska, Mert Mondragon of Rain or Shine, Raymond Zorrilla of Phoenix, Silliman Sy of Blackwater, Bobby Rosales of Kia, alternate governor Ryan Gregorio of Meralco, and TNT assistant team manager Magnum Membrere. All 12 representatives sat at one table, a watershed moment considering the friction caused by the split the past two months.

“I think we’re a very solid group at this point in time. Business as usual,” Romero said.

Narvasa was also present, but he was on a separate table with other league officials.

He had virtually nothing to say in an event where, in the past, commissioners usually run the show, opting to hand the reins to the governors. The league made it clear beforehand that questions regarding Narvasa’s tenure would not be addressed during the press conference, but Romero said that the governors would deal with their problems internally.

“We [decided] that we will have one voice, not just for the 12 teams but for the Philippine fans of basketball,” said Romero. “We want to be one voice in representing the whole PBA.”

And there seems to be still a lot for the board to discuss. At the end of the presser, the governors left in two separate groups, with the seven-team bloc that wants Narvasa out exiting ahead of the five-team group seeking to retain him as commissioner.

At the very least, however, the board has shown a semblance of unity and it promises the fans that basketball at the highest level will be available to them despite the leadership crisis.

“We will assure the fans that we will provide the same entertainment, the same basketball fun that we have always provided,” promised Romero.

And the board will continue to find ways to improve the league.

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“Definitely the biggest value of PBA is entertainment. As long as we make the matchups competitive, this will make the PBA more valuable,” Fernandez said.

TAGS: Philippine Basketball Association, Rep. Mikee Romero

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