Saying that the Philippine Basketball Association board is stronger than ever—and will stay that way—new chair Ricky Vargas said that they “are looking forward to a very fruitful 43rd Season” and at the same time, bared accepting the resignation of commissioner Chito Narvasa.
“We’re back together—stronger than ever,” Vargas said in a press conference, minutes before the opening of the new season Sunday afternoon at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
No reporter was allowed to ask questions during Vargas’ announcement.
“And we will stay like that as we begin the healing process of the PBA. This [reconciliation of the board] is for the fans,” Vargas added.
Vargas was the only one who talked, and after thanking fellow board members Alfrancis Chua of Barangay Ginebra, Bobby Rosales of Kia, Al Panlilio of Meralco and Pato Gregorio of TNT KaTropa for their roles in ending the worst crisis to hit the league in its existence, added that Narvasa has tendered his resignation, effective immediately.
Willie Marcial, the special assistant to the commissioner and media bureau chief since the time of Noli Eala, was appointed officer-in-charge as the board starts its search for a new man at the helm.
Prior to opening day, the 12-man board was literally split into two as it argued over Narvasa’s term, an issue that dragged for quite a while and even threatened the postponement of the start of the season.
“We reached out to (Chito) Narvasa and made amends for the things that needed to be clarified,” Vargas explained.
“We worked out on his personal hurts in the process and this morning, he submitted his resignation effective today (Sunday).”
The board was split in factions of seven and five, with the bigger group not wanting to extend Narvasa’s watch and the smaller bloc sticking by the commissioner.
There was not a controversy that big in the league’s first 42 years as the issue disrupted the annual planning session of the board in Los Angeles last month and made the five-day working trip a sightseeing tour.
The brouhaha told, as the season opened before a very lean crowd, a far departure from the success the league enjoyed near the end of the previous season when Barangay Ginebra won the Governors’ Cup before record crowds at Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
“I would just like to thank the people who made us stronger than ever,” Vargas said as he made special mention of Chua, “who was always there looking for solutions.”
Narvasa steps down after two years of calling the shots.
While he may have been the central figure in the biggest issue that rocked the league, he can lay claim to engineering the blockbuster championship series between the Gin Kings and the Meralco Bolts.
That title series played its last three games at the cavernous Bulacan arena where more than 54,000 fans watched Game 7 and close to 150,000 saw the last three outings—all all-time records.
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