PBA puts 7-player deal under microscope
- Abac Cordero () - August 2, 2006 - 12:00am
The PBA board will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to deliberate on the validity of a recent trade that involved seven players from Air21 and sister teams Coca-Cola and Ginebra.

The trade that was consummated last Friday has sparked a controversy on the manner it was sealed. It has also fanned rumors of a possible disbandment of the Coca-Cola franchise.

Officials from Coca-Cola, Ginebra and Air21 will be given a chance to convince the others that the trade, the biggest so far in the off-season, was done in good faith.

Newly-installed PBA chairman Ricky Vargas of Talk N Text will preside over the board meeting although commissioner Noli Eala will still have the final say on the validity of the trade.

"This trade will be openly discussed. So, in the spirit of transparency, what I wanted to do was get everybody around. The trade is quite complicated and difficult to understand," Vargas said.

"I really don’t know what it is. I don’t know if it’s a fair trade. So, I want to listen first. We will put it on the table. But it’s the responsibility of the commissioner," the chairman added.

"We need to take a look at it. I don’t want to close the door on anything. The other governors will listen and we’ll take it from there," said Vargas, adding the rumored disbandment of Coca-Cola will also be taken up.

The PBA has held in abeyance its approval of the trade that actually involved seven active players plus the rights on Rudy Hatfield, one of the Fil-Americans who had problems proving their citizenship.

"This trade is not valid until approved by our office," said Eala during yesterday’s PSA Forum at the Pantalan Restaurant in Manila.

Eala said the trade involving a couple of marquee players is being reviewed whether or not it conformed with league rules, particularly on trades involving players from sister teams.

"We will use all existing and applicable rules here. If the trade conformed to the rules, then it will be approved. If not, the teams may be asked to make some considerations," said Eala.

"But pending review, the trade has not been approved by the PBA," said the commissioner. The decision will come out in a few days.

Eala said he might propose to the board a new rule that would ensure fairness in the future trades. He said each team will be made to pick their top five players based on the longevity, contract value, marketability and statistics.

These players, Eala added, can only be traded to the top five players of the other teams.

Officials from other teams questioned the recent trade, saying it was Ginebra, the crowd favorite, which benefited the most with the acquisition of former Coca-Cola players Billy Mamaril and Rafi Reavis.

Under PBA rules, sister teams cannot be involved in direct trades. Aside from Ginebra and Coca-Cola, also under the San Miguel Corporation banner in the PBA are San Miguel Beer and Purefoods.

The trade also sparked rumors of the possible disbandment of Coca-Cola, which is allegedly working on the transfer of some key players to a sister team just in case it disbands.

But Coca-Cola, a source said, has no plans of leaving the PBA.

Nonetheless, the PBA has asked Coca-Cola management to clarify the issue whether it is bidding the PBA goodbye or would simply change the product line.

Over the weekend, reports also came out that San Miguel coach Jong Uichico will move on as team consultant of Ginebra. Chot Reyes, the former Coca-Cola coach now with the RP team, will take over at SMB.

The entry of Mamaril and Reavis makes Ginebra a very formidable team considering that it also gained the rights on Fil-American Rudy Hatfield who is bound to make a comeback after clearing his nationality.

Despite yielding four players during the trade, Ginebra will ooze with talent once the trade is approved. Already in its lineup are Erik Menk, Rommel Adducul, Mark Caguiao and Mike Holper.

The officials from the other teams said the trade might tilt the balance among the 10 competing teams in the PBA.

Aries Dimaunahan and Ervin Sotto, formerly of Ginebra, were sent to Air21 while Manny Ramos, Kalani Ferreria, also from Ginebra, went to Coca-Cola along with Ryan Bernardo and a couple of future draft picks.

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