Ricky Vargas takes on fireman’s role after PBA board sniffs traces of planned attack
There’s smoke in the PBA board and amiable chair Ricky Vargas is going out of his way to put out the fire.
Flying home on Sunday after presiding over the board of governors’ planning session in this posh French capital, Vargas has sought an audience with Converge owner Dennis Anthony Uy to convince the tycoon to soften his stand on the board representation mess and to clear the air about what Vargas and his colleagues see as an attempt to weaken the league.
“We need to straighten this out before it truly gets out of hand,” Vargas, the TNT chair, said on the eve of his Qatar Air flight to Doha and then Manila. “I’m sure we can talk this out like true gentlemen, as what has been the practice in the PBA.”
Converge is the only team not represented in the yearly gathering of team representatives, an off-shoot, obviously, of the board’s rejection of Delta Pineda as Uy’s choice for team governor.
But the bigger problem Vargas is looking to stem is that three teams have reported to the board that Converge was lobbying for them to bolt the PBA to start a new league.
Vargas revealed the names of the teams that got the call—one an owner of multiple titles, a middle-of-the-pack squad and the other a woeful doormat—but asked that they not be identified because all three said “they aren’t interested.”
“That’s serious,” Vargas said. “We are all in this together.”
Converge entered the PBA last season after buying the Alaska franchise. It first named former commissioner Chito Salud as its board representative before appointing the lawyer to fulfill a different capacity and out of the basketball team at the end of last season.
Nothing was confirmed about the Salud exit until Pineda was floated to be his successor.
The board shot down Pineda’s appointment close to two months ago as reports put it that the PBA body wanted the powerful decision-making group to remain “apolitical.” Pineda is the current Pampanga governor.
Pineda was actually appointed as Converge consultant when it entered the PBA and later on elevated to team manager before the end of the FiberXers’ first season.
Conflicts of interest, like his ownership of teams playing in another league, have also been reported as one of the reasons why the board thumbed down his appointment.
Vargas refused to confirm the reasons but said that rejecting Pineda was a collegial decision.
The board, though, has approved Converge’s nomination of Archen Cayabyab as its alternate board representative as confirmed by the Commissioner’s Office.
Cayabyab, who played collegiately for Letran and National University before seeing action in the defunct Philippine Basketball League 20 years ago, is a brother-in-law of Pineda. He is married to Mylyn Pineda, a board member of Pampanga and former Lubao City mayor.
Vargas said that commissioner Willie Marcial had already gotten in touch with representatives of Uy for the critical meeting. Vargas made it clear that he requested for one particular thing.
“I don’t want it in a restaurant,” he said. “We should have it at the PBA offices, our home.”