MANILA, Philippines – The future of third year swingman Alex Nuyles has been put on hold amid a contract row with newbie PBA team Mahindra Enforcers.
The former Adamson University standout may not see action for at least the upcoming 2016 Philippine Cup as he claimed Mahindra deemed a one-year contract he signed as invalid, leaving him without a team just two weeks before the 41st PBA season opens on October 18.
Nuyles, whose contract from his first PBA team Rain or Shine ended on August 31, signed a one-year extension with Mahindra on July 29. But two weeks after the PBA Rookie Draft last August, Mahindra officials sat Nuyles down and told him his contract was not valid.
“Nagpalit na daw sila ng pangalan, iba na daw management,” Nuyles’ sports agent Ed Ponceja told Rappler the team’s explanation. "Hindi ba kagaya ng Petron na nagpalit sila ng San Miguel, nagpapalit sila ng pangalan pero they still honor the contract? Sabi ko hindi pwede yon.”
(They said they changed names, the management is different. Isn’t it similar to Petron when they switched to San Miguel, they changed names but they still honored the contract? I told them that’s not acceptable.)
The Manny Pacquiao-coached Mahindra entered the PBA originally with the name KIA Sorento before switching its monicker to KIA Carnival in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup.
Changing names is common practice in the PBA where teams are owned by business corporations. Contracts are simply honored since the team is still essentially under the same franchise despite the new name.
After their first season, it was announced KIA would take on the new name of Mahindra Enforcers. This name change, according to Mahindra team manager Eric Pineda in a report by Karlo Sacamos on Spin.ph, also meant a change in the head of basketball operations. Pineda said the new management did not sign Nuyles’ contract as they essentially did not want him on the team anymore.
Ponceja said they were not made aware the team had plans of changing its name at the time the contract was signed.
Rappler tried to reach out to Pineda for comment but he did not respond.
Nuyles, 26, aired his frustration with posts on his Twitter and Instagram accounts in the last week, admitting he misses Rain or Shine, the team that drafted him 9th overall in 2013 and gave him a two-year contract.
They offered a contract, i signed, short notice, contract was not valid? I guess no more pba games for me this year? Tsk tsk tsk... Missing my old team. :( A photo posted by alexander nuyles (@alexnuyles06) on Sep 27, 2015 at 9:37am PDT
Nuyles was eventually left unprotected for the 2014 expansion draft where he was picked up by another newcomer Blackwater Elite. He was then shipped to Mahindra in exchange for forward Reil Cervantes during the Commissioner’s Cup last March.
No more pba games for me? They offered a contract, i signed. but contract was not valid? Tsk tsk — Alex Nuyles (@NuylesAlex) September 26, 2015
Mahindra is an Indian automobile brand locally distributed by Asianbrands Motors Corporation, a sister company of the Columbian Autocar Corporation (CAC), which distributes KIA in the Philippines.
One-conference contract offer
As the contract issue picked up steam on social media and news outlets, Ponceja revealed Mahindra had a change of heart and offered Nuyles a one-conference contract on Thursday, October 1. Nuyles and Ponceja both said they have no intentions of accepting that offer and will continue to push for Mahindra to uphold the one-year contract initially signed.
"Nakikiusap sila kung pwedeng pa-pirmahin si Alex ng one conference. Bakit hindi mo panindigan yung pinapirma mong kontrata? Bakit kung ano-ano ino-offer mo ngayon?” Ponceja said.
"It’s either one conference or meron daw silang inaayos na trade with another team. Ayusin niyo muna mga gusto niyo ayusin sabi ko, hindi yung kung ano-ano pina-promise niyo tapos hindi niyo tutuparin.”
(They’re asking if Alex can sign for one conference. Why won’t they just honor the contract he signed? Why are they offering other options now? It’s either one conference or they said they’re fixing a trade with another team. I told them to fix whatever they need to fix first and not make promises they can’t keep.)
According to Ponceja, assistant team manager Joe Ramos also requested that Nuyles not speak out but Ponceja told him he cannot stop Nuyles from talking to the media if that’s what he wants.
It would appear this was only one of a series of alleged deceptions from the second year PBA franchise as Ponceja explained the timeline of events that eventually left Nuyles without salary for a month and potentially jobless this coming PBA season.
“Ang kontrata niya supposedly pag in-extend is 3 years pero nakiusap sila na one year so sige pumayag na kami. Sila na nagbigay ng presyong yun (His contract was supposed to be extended to 3 years but they requested to make it just one year so we obliged. They gave the amount),” Ponceja said, speaking to Rappler in a 20-minute phone interview.
"Tapos two weeks after the draft, kinausap kami ang unang sinabi kung pwede daw na bawasan yung sweldo niya,” he narrated. "Sabi ko, e hindi naman kami nagbigay ng sweldo, sila naman nagbigay ng sweldo. Kasi hindi daw kaya magbayad ng team ng ganoon sweldo.”
(Two weeks after the draft, they talked to us and at first they negotiated for a lower salary. But I told them they decided the amount in the first place. They said the team can’t pay that amount.)
File Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
During the third meeting, Mahindra broke the news to Nuyles of his alleged invalid contract. During a short notice press conference on Friday, October 2, Nuyles admitted he does not have a copy of the contract he signed. Only Mahindra has a copy. He last received his salary on August 31.
“Ako okay lang ako, ang kawawa kasi yung pinapag-aral ko na dalawang pinsan ko,” said Nuyles, who manages every day for now with his savings. "Meron pa akong uncle and pinsan pinapag-trabaho ko dito sa Manila sa akin sila nagta-trabaho. Paano ko sila susuportahan ngayon?”
(I’m okay but I feel sorry for my two cousins I’m supporting. I also have an uncle and another cousin who works for me here in Manila. How will I support them now?)
"May mga drama pa nga sila noon na 'no we will not trade’. Kasi nung unang (beses na) nagtatawaran kami sa sweldo, sabi ko bakit di niyo na lang i-trade? E hindi daw nila kaya kasi gagawin daw nila si Alex na core (of the team),” Ponceja lamented as his player can no longer crack other teams with everywhere else full this late in the offseason.
(They even gave us some drama they don’t want to trade Alex. As we haggled the salary, I suggested they just trade Alex. But they didn’t want to because they intended for Alex to be part of the team’s core.)
Pineda also said in the same Spin.ph report it is common knowledge that a player first signs the contract before management. But Ponceja explained that while it is certainly standard practice for players to sign first, the fact that management offered a player a contract already signifies clear intention team officials will sign the paper.
The broken promises from Mahindra also extended to privileges, according to Ponceja and Nuyles.
"They gave him the key (to the condominium unit) pero hindi niya nagamit dahil walang ilaw (but he was not able to use it because there was no electricity),” Ponceja said as Nuyles added the condo also had no water.
Nuyles was also not given the car he said he was promised.
Seeking help from the PBA
Ponceja said they have already submitted a letter written by their lawyer to the PBA office as they seek for the help of newly-appointed Commissioner Chito Narvasa.
But Narvasa is currently in Changsha, China where national team Gilas Pilipinas is competing in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.
“I hope the Commissioner will side with us,” Ponceja said.
It has not been confirmed whether or not playing coach Pacquiao is aware of the situation and the side of Nuyles. But Ponceja’s gut feel is the Filipino boxing icon has absolutely no idea about it.
“Probably Manny Pacquiao doesn’t know what’s going on,” he said. "He appointed people who don’t know how to run the team. Hindi nila sinasabi sa kanya (They’re not telling him) what is really going on."
Ponceja went on to claim that cases like this with Mahindra players are not uncommon. He bared a number of former players have also experienced alleged deception and have been mishandled by team officials, but never spoke out.
Nuyles, on the other hand, has no plans of quieting down – even if another team decides to pick him up – until there is accountability from Mahindra.
"Akala siguro nila pinasukan nila inter-barangay, na pag ayaw na nila basta basta na lang nila iwanan (yung player),” Ponceja declared. "Ilalaban namin yun kasi tama naman yun tsaka karapatan ni Alex yun.” (They probably thought they joined an inter-barangay league that if you no longer want players, you can just drop them. We will fight for it because that is Alex’s right.) – Rappler.com