Narvasa pushes for #WeArePBA

Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - March 17, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa is promoting the hashtag #WeArePBA in a new campaign to involve the entire nation in embracing the excitement of the pro league with a distinct emphasis in showcasing the skills of every player under a system of fairness and parity.

The PBA introduced the hashtag during the recent Philippine Cup Finals and will go full blast with the campaign in the Commissioner’s Cup that starts with a doubleheader at the Smart Araneta Coliseum today.

“First of all, we’re about fairness,” said Narvasa. “We want every team to have an equal opportunity to win. It’s up to each team how to employ resources, manpower and strategy to win. Second, we want to achieve a high level of parity or balance. I think in the recent Philippine Cup, we were able to show balance in that at the end of the eliminations, several teams had identical records (two teams were tied for second place, four teams were tied for fourth place, two teams were tied for eighth place and two teams were tied for 10th place). We want our teams to stay and work to make our league stronger. We want to make it difficult for teams to leave us just like in a company where employees work hard because they’re treated fairly and given good benefits. We want teams to stay in the PBA not only because they love basketball but also because of what the PBA provides.”

Narvasa said the PBA plays no favorites. “We don’t favor any team,” he said. “The PBA is for all. We’ve evolved to become the country’s No. 1 sports entertainment. We want to bring the PBA into every home and make it a part of everyday life. The PBA is kapatid, kapuso and kapamilya. Even the UAAP and NCAA have benefited from the PBA because collegiate players try to excel in hoping to eventually land a pro contract.”

Narvasa said teamwork is the key to the PBA’s success. “Everybody has to pitch in – the team owners, players, coaches, media, fans,” he said. “We’re depending on everybody’s support in understanding what we’re trying to do and making it work. If we want to capture the whole nation, we’ve got to reach out and bring the PBA closer to everyone everywhere. That’s why we’ve got the Batang PBA program which will go nationwide. We’re planning to launch a health and wellness campaign, anchored on nutrition, like the NBA Fit. We’re working on a program that will look into basketball science. We’re on TV 24/7 with PBA Rush. If the NBA has the hashtag #ThisIsWhyWePlay, our version is #WeArePBA. We’ll retain our tag Liga Ng Mga Bida as we reinforce our brand as the center of Philippine basketball. PBA fandom will be rooted in the family and relationships with fans. We want to create more programs leading to active fan engagement.”

Narvasa said the league will continue to improve officiating standards. In the recent Philippine Cup, he said the pool of 17 referees went through a grading system to determine different levels of capability. From 17, the pool was trimmed to 14 for the semifinals and 12 for the finals. The pool will revert to 17 for the Commissioner’s Cup.

“The guide is the rule,” he said. “Unlike players who practice every day and are exposed to different situations, referees don’t have that opportunity. Referees can’t practice every day. They review videos but don’t do court practice other than simulations. Players get used to calls by ballboys during practice so when they play an actual game, it’s sometimes difficult to adjust. In the NBA, calls and non-calls are documented in the last two minutes of close games and released to the public in the interest of transparency. I don’t agree with that. In the PBA, we do the same thing and share the report with the coaches but not the public.”

Narvasa said it’s not unusual for the PBA to be on the receiving end of haters, bashers and fault finders.

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