Salud confirms departure as PBA searches for new commish
MANILA, Philippines — Incumbent PBA Commissioner Atty. Angelico "Chito” Salud formally announced his resignation and his desire to hand over his position to a “new and fresh leadership” at the end of the current season in a press conference Sunday, February 15 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“After 5 years I think this is the right time to pass the baton to a new and fresh leadership, a fresh face, with a fresh voice, with fresh ideas that will take this league to greater heights,” the 52-year old said.
“I really think it’s time to move on, to give way for someone, to continue the gains that we’ve had in the last 5 years. I really had a personal timeline of 4 to 5 years and I think we’re there. In my own assessment, if whatever is left in me to contribute to the league is less than what the position calls for, then perhaps it’s really time for me to go."
News broke of Salud stepping down at the end of the 40th season last Friday.
Current PBA Chairman Pato Gregorio said the PBA Board will meet on February 26 to lay down the criteria for the new Commissioner, who will be selected at the end of the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup.
Gregorio said that the early selection is for the new Commissioner to begin transitioning into the job by the third conference with Salud’s help.
Salud, who said he will be part of the selection process if need be, did not endorse any candidate, saying that it should be a consensus decision among team owners and Governors "so the next Commissioner will have the full trust of the entire PBA community."
“We respect his decision. He believes it’s for himself, it’s for his family. He believes it is also good for the PBA to have a fresh start. He said push it to the next level,” Gregorio said.
Asked if he reconsidered his decision to step down, Salud maintained that it was simply time for him to move forward.
“This is not about me. This is about the PBA. This is about the future of the PBA,” he said. "This is about the leaders and the members of the basketball community and the fans.”
For now, he expressed there are no definite plans for what he will do next. He is looking forward to taking a break with his family and seeing where he goes from there. He did not specify whether he will still be involved with basketball.
Salud, however, dismissed rumors that he will jump to politics in the near future.
Salud, the league’s 8th Commissioner, took the job in 2010 at a time when the PBA was struggling to maintain viewership and fan base. He has since steered to a much better place in terms of attendance and viewership.
His most significant contribution was expanding the PBA to an unprecedented 12 teams to usher in its 40th season. He welcomed Meralco in 2010, Globalport in 2012, and NLEX, Blackwater, and KIA in 2014.
Attendance records were broken under Salud's term, with the league recording its biggest crowd of 52,612 last October on opening day of this season at the Philippine Arena.
The minor league PBA Developmental League was also established under him.
"I do remember the first time when I was tasked to make the opening speech during the 36th season,” Salud shared.
"I made my consultations with the fans, with our team owners, with our stakeholders and what was the sentiment at the time? ‘Humihina na ho ang PBA. Marami na ho kalaban. Meron nang boxing, meron nang football. Marami nang iba’t ibang forms of entertainment. Mga players ng PBA hindi na naglalaro with heart. Gusto nila sumweldo lang.’
"That was the sentiment at the time. That was then. It’s different now. Today, the PBA is stronger in its 40th year and more relevant than ever.”
(The PBA is getting weaker. It has plenty of competition. There is boxing and football. There are also plenty of other forms of entertainment. PBA players no longer play with heart. They just want to make money.)
Salud is the son of the late former Commissioner Rudy, who had the job from 1988 to 1992, and under whose time the PBA experienced a surge as it grew from 6 teams to 8. He also penned the PBA's constitution and by-laws and instituted the All-Star Game.
Like his father, Salud made huge strides for the PBA, which now has a stable broadcast partner in TV5 with games airing live at primetime. There continues to be regular out-of-town games, and popularity has sky-rocketed once more as Asia's first play-for-pay league returned to the public's mainstream of consciousness with a solidified commitment to the national team.
Salud clarified his resignation will not affect that commitment to the national cause.
"That remains a personal mission of mine. The team owners are very clear, they will fully support the national team,” he said.
"Whenever I talk to them about the national team they know it’s for the fans. Their desire to pull together is very, very palpable. That I can promise you."
Salud's reign was not without controversies and bumps on the road.
The most recent of which is the mechanics of last year's draft lottery, where coach Yeng Guiao called it “crude” and “lacking credibility.” Salud, however, insisted it was an "honest draw” and apologized to fans, teams, and coaches “for the distraction it has caused."
Salud also showed his strong-handed discipline when he issued a lifetime ban on Puerto Rican import Renaldo Balkman, who choked teammate Arwind Santos during a game in 2013. - Rappler.com
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