MANILA, Philippines – Despite questions raised by Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao on the credibility and integrity of the PBA Rookie Draft lottery, Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner Atty. Chito Salud maintained the lottery was an "honest draw."
"It may have appeared unrefined, but it was an honest draw," he said in a statement on Friday, July 4.
The statement comes in response to Guiao announcing Thursday night, July 3 the team's intention to pursue an investigation on the draft lottery held before Game 1 of the Finals in the season-ending Governors' Cup on Tuesday, July 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Guiao said the process of the draft lottery was "crude" and was "lacking in credibility."
"The process needs to be improved. But I guess it's really the credibility and the integrity of the process itself and the Commissioner who was conducting the lottery draw," he explained.
For his part, Salud admitted the process can be improved upon for the future and apologized to fans, teams, and coaches "for the distraction it has caused."
"This is an entirely avoidable issue," he said. "Improvements could have easily been instituted had I given this more attention. It simply never occurred to me that the whole process looked crude as coach Guiao called it."
He also assured that "improvements will be implemented anchored on fullest transparency."
Guiao, who called the draft lottery "suspicious," said the team plans on submitting a letter of intent to the PBA Board to pursue an investigation on the lottery and request for a re-draw.
"We were just wondering why we did not have any representative close range during the lottery draw. We were wondering why the box was not transparent. We were wondering why it was the Commissioner who put the balls inside and then he was also the one who picked it out," Guiao cited the team's specific concerns about the draw.
"And the most fatal flaw is that the Commissioner did not show his hands after he put the ball in the box."
No letter has been submitted yet, per PBA Media Bureau Chief Willie Marcial, as of posting time.
The draft lottery was conducted to determined which between the Globalport Batang Pier and the Meralco Bolts will get the first overall pick for the 2014 PBA Rookie Draft to be held on August 24.
Salud drew Globalport for the first overall pick, leaving Meralco with the second pick. However, Rain or Shine owns Meralco's pick from a previous trade.
Beermen backs Salud
In a separate statement on Friday, July 4, San Miguel Beermen Governor Robert Non said they are "101% in support of the Commissioner in his stewardship of the league."
Aside from criticizing the process, Guiao also questioned the league's and Salud's credibility and integrity.
"Why is there not a proper way of doing the lottery? Why do we have to subject ourselves to a crude method?" Guiao said.
"If we cannot conduct a credible, simple lottery draw, how can we conduct a credible professional basketball league?"
But Non vouched for the Commissioner and the PBA.
"He has proven his impeccable professionalism, integrity and fairness, which led to the league's success. We don't believe in such accusation of impropriety," he said in the statement.
"This accusation is also tantamount to undermining the league and Commissioner Salud's ability to lead it."
Read the full statements of Commissioner Salud and Governor Non below.
Salud: "I have seen the video of the draft lottery I recently conducted. I can now also see and understand why people have expressed concerns, some even doubts. This is an entirely avoidable issue and I apologize to our fans, our teams and coaches for the distraction it has caused. Improvements could have easily been instituted had I given this more attention. It simply never occurred to me that the whole process looked crude as coach guiao called it. It may haveappeared unrefined, but it was an honest draw. Improvements will be implemented anchored on fullest transparency."
Non: "We are 101% in support of the Commissioner in his stewardship of the league. He has proven his impeccable professionalism, integrity and fairness, which led to the league's success. We don't believe in such accusation of impropriety during the lottery to determine the first pick in the coming rookie draft. What will he gain in return, nothing. This accusation is also tantamount to undermining the league and Comm. Salud's ability to lead it. Such allegation have no place in the pba where sportsmanship and integrity are of utmost importance."