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A house divided

The PBA is in a state of crisis and for the sake of its millions of followers, something must be done now to end the turmoil. This uneasiness can only lead to more dissension, suspicion and divisiveness that threaten the continuing existence of the 42-year-old league.

Last Monday, PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa got together with incoming PBA chairman Ramoncito Fernandez of NLEX, Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy, Rain Or Shine PBA governor Mamerto Mondragon, Alaska PBA governor Dickie Bachmann and Phoenix PBA governor Raymund Zorilla at the UCC Corinthian Hills. TNT PBA governor Pato Gregorio was in Singapore and couldn’t attend but had signified his support for the group’s consensus. Meralco PBA governor Al Panlilio arrived late. Narvasa was told in no uncertain terms that the governors of seven PBA franchises would not support the extension of his contract.

What was supposed to be a cordial lunch gathering turned out to be a brief 10-minute confrontation. Narvasa left without eating the food he had ordered.

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According to a source, Narvasa requested for a special PBA Board of Governors meeting to discuss the issue.  That meeting was held yesterday morning but only the seven governors who want Narvasa out showed up. The governors filed a resolution to terminate Narvasa’s contract on the basis of no confidence and said a search process would be started to find a replacement. Absent from the meeting were governors of San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra, Star, Kia and GlobalPort. Under the PBA Constitution and By-Laws, at least eight votes are necessary to oust or appoint the Commissioner.

Clearly, the PBA can’t move on with a house that is divided. The governors owe it to the fans to fix what’s broken, to heal wounds and to seal cracks in the wall. For the sake of the league, governors must agree to some kind of a compromise, if not some kind of a sacrifice. In any league or family, there will be disagreement because it’s expected in a dynamic organization. Not even the NBA is exempted from disagreement. 

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But stakeholders must accept that their individual interests can never be above the interests of the league. Unity is the bond that makes for a successful organization. Without unity, the organization will crumble in the din of intrigue, conflict and disarray.

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There are six independent franchises in the PBA – Alaska, Rain Or Shine, GlobalPort, Phoenix, Kia and Blackwater. They’re supposed to be the swing votes in case of an impasse between the three MVP teams TNT, Meralco and NLEX and the three San Miguel Corp. teams San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra and Star. Lines were drawn in Narvasa’s case with seven for his exit and five for his retention. 

The crisis isn’t about Narvasa. It’s about the Board. The PBA can’t move on if some governors boycott a Board meeting, special or not. If a meeting is called, all the governors are bound to attend, assuming the meeting is convened according to the rules of the Constitution and By-Laws, meaning it’s legitimate. The alternative isn’t to skirt the issue but to face it head-on. If an issue is submitted before the Board for resolution and there is no consensus on a decision, then the presiding Chairman must do something to get everyone together in a show of unity. That is the challenge of the Chairman.   

It’s no secret that fans are disenchanted with this state of confusion. All they want is to watch their hardcourt heroes play the game we all love in a professional league that is managed fairly, with transparency and the goal of parity. Embroiled in distrust, the Board should rise above partisanship, meet halfway, agree on a decision and move forward because the league shouldn’t be held down by one man – it should act in the interest of all 12 franchises for the sake of the fans.

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