MANILA, Philippines – The PBA and some of its board of governors felt blindsided with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas' (SBP) decision to withdraw from the Asian Games as the league bore the brunt of Filipino basketball fans' anger.
In a press conference held before Game 1 of the 2018 Commissioner's Cup finals, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial and 7 governors expressed their disappointment with the decision, which many found out only through social media. (READ: Gilas Pilipinas pulls out of 2018 Asian Games)
"I think when it comes to putting up a team, the best thing SBP could have done last night before making a decision was consult the commissioner and the PBA board, which they did not," said Alaska governor Dickie Bachmann.
"Parang nalaglag kami. Ako every morning one thing I check is Twitter eh. Tapos pagkita ko 7 hours ago [na] 'not joining' ganyang statement," Phoenix alternate govenor Raymond Zorilla shared.
(We felt left out. I check Twitter every morning and then I saw their statement that was posted 7 hours ago.)
"We could have been well-informed [instead of just finding it out on] social media," Zorilla added.
The league has been heavily criticized for the withdrawal – with fans blaming PBA teams, most notably the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) squads, for not lending their players. (READ: PH faces penalty for Asian Games withdrawal)
The Philippines was set to send the core of Rain or Shine to the Asiad but Yeng Guiao, who was supposed to coach the team, requested for reinforcements that included SMC players June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Jeff Chan and Paul Lee alongside GlobalPort's Stanley Pringle and Blackwater's Poy Erram. (READ: Asian Games 2018 pullout: Yeng Guiao wish list thumbed down)
However, Ginebra governor and SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua said it is not plausible to loan players under their umbrella, especially with the Gin Kings and the Beermen squaring off in the finals.
The best-of-7 championship duel could end by August 10, at the latest, and the Asian Games will start on August 18 and end on September 2.
Chua reasoned out that their players, who could also see action in the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in September, need to rest.
In Lee, Pringle and Erram's case, their respective squads did not allow the 3 to be loaned since it means not having them for the Governors' Cup that will start on August 17.
It had been agreed upon that Rain or Shine would be the only team that would have no games scheduled during the Asiad.
"Hindi naman sa nagmamaramot ako pero ang RoS pinayagan na hindi maglaro. Dapat hindi rin ako maglalaro 'pag wala 'yung player na galing sa akin, para parehas lang kami," said Magnolia governor Rene Pardo.
(I am not being selfish but RoS will not play during the Asian Games. If I lend a player, my team should also not play so it would be fair.)
While fans are arguing that the PBA should just take a hiatus while the Asian Games is ongoing, Marcial said they can no longer afford to take a break since the league will also stop operations for the second round of the Asian Qualifiers.
If the PBA caters to both the Asian Games and the Asian Qualifiers, there will be no games for a month a half.
Extending the league schedule would also mean paying players who could have already been released to free agency and paying additional accommodation costs, Zorilla said.
Amid all the ruckus, Marcial reiterated the league's support for the national squad.
"Anytime, okay ang RoS. Kung gusto nila magpadala bukas, mamaya, okay. All out pa rin ang RoS. All out pa rin ang PBA."
(Anytime, RoS is fine with it. If they want to send a team tomorrow or later, we are ready. RoS is all out. The PBA is all out.) – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.