MANILA, Philippines – Many were surprised on Friday, February 13, when multiple news outlets announced that PBA Commissioner Chito Salud plans on his announcing his retirement effective at the conclusion of the 2015 PBA season.
Two popular PBA stars who have played for most of Salud’s tenure are Talk ’N Text’s Jimmy Alapag and Barangay Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa, both of whom had nothing but praise for Salud when they heard about reports of his retirement.
“I think he did an incredible job,” said Alapag, who’s in his first conference as the Tropang Texters’ team manager. “Obviously I think he continued to raise the bar for the league.
Alapag was drafted by TNT in 2003 and just recently retired himself following a successful 12-year career. One of the clutchest players the PBA has ever seen, Alapag was also an important piece of the Philippine national basketball team rosters that won silver in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship and participated in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
Salud played a key role in Gilas’ international success, albeit unheralded, as he adjusted the schedule of PBA games to allow the league’s players to have more time for FIBA preparations.
During Salud’s tenure, the league expanded from 10 teams to 12 with the inclusion of the KIA Carnival and Blackwater Elite this past season. Salud also helped build a steady partnership with television network TV 5, which has done an impressive job of broadcasting PBA games and allowing coverage to expand to different areas of the world.
“What he’s done as far as expanding the league, you know, globally - in the Middle East and other places - I think the commissioner’s done, again, a great job,” Alapag said. “And if - if - it is true, he leaves very, very big shoes to fill.”
File photo by Jane Bracher/Rappler
“No way? Really?” reacted a stunned Caguioa when he heard of the report.
The future hall-of-famer entered the league in 2001 when he was taken third overall by Ginebra in the draft. Throughout his career, Caguioa has played in the PBA under the tenures of four different commissioners - Jun Bernardino, Noli Eala, Sonny Barrios, and Salud - but it didn’t take long for him to point out which one he feels has been the best.
“To tell you the truth, out of all the commissioners… I think he’s the best, for me, because [of] how he did things,” said the 15-year veteran.
“He talks to the players, he talks to the coaches. He’s not the type of commissioner [that's] super strict talaga (really). He understands you, he talks to you.”
“Sa totoo nga (to be honest), he doesn’t act like a commissioner. He acts like your friend. And for me, that’s one thing that makes him, for me, one of the best commissioners that we’ve ever had here.”
Salud’s time as commissioner saw advances in how PBA franchises constructed their rosters with the rise in Fil-Am players, allowing struggling teams to recruit imports with unlimited height, and, beginning in the 2015 Governors’ Cup, the recruitment of Asian imports along with the traditional imports teams usually get from the United States.
“One thing na ginawa ni Commissioner Salud, he made this league better and bigger. And then I think mas lalo ngayon, mas madaming fans ngayon,” said Caguioa.
(One thing Commissioner Salud did was make the league better and bigger. I think there are even more fans now.)
“Almost all the teams now… they’re even na eh, except those sa mga bagong teams (KIA and Blackwater). Pero I think he’s fair.”
(Almost all the teams now… they’re even, except for the new teams. But I think he’s fair.)
Caguiao, a former PBA Rookie of the Year and MVP, compared the void left by Salud’s impending retirement to the one following the departure of former NBA Commissioner David Stern, who in his 30-year tenure helped develop the NBA into the global phenomenon it is today.
“Parang yung nag retire si David Stern,” he said.
(It’s like when David Stern retired.)
Hopefully maging ganoon rin yung next commissioner,” Caguiao later said, as he hopes the next leader of the PBA will be like Salud. “Hopefully, sana, makuha niya yung attitude ni Commissioner ngayon.”
(Hopefully the next commissioner will be like Salud. Hopefully he gets Salud's attitude.)
“ I don’t know,” Caguioa also said. “Really, I’m kind of sad about it.”
Salud, 52, took over the post from now SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios in August 2010, and will have held the job for five years assuming the news about his pending retirement is accurate.
Salud is expected to make the formal announcement on Sunday, February 15, some time during the PBA’s double header between the GlobalPort Batang Pier vs. Meralco Bolts and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel vs. Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters matches. – Rappler.com