Ricky Vargas
PBA draws up season 45
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - January 26, 2020 - 12:00am

Board meeting set in Milan

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) board of governors will finalize its programs for the league’s upcoming 45th season topped off by the inaugural 3x3 competition when it convenes for its annual planning session next week in Milan, Italy.

Asia’s first play-for-pay league sets out to branch into the new Olympic event of 3x3 basketball in an effort to help the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas develop the sport in the country.

The 3-a-side tourney, an initiative of PBA chairman Ricky Vargas of TNT KaTropa, is eyed for a kickoff by the third week of March, a couple of weeks after the Philippine Cup opening on March 1.

“All the teams in the PBA will participate in the 3x3. The games will be played before the first game (of the regular Philippine Cup) or in between games so fans will get to watch it,” said commissioner Willie Marcial.

He stressed that the 3x3 will feature a different group of players from the 5-on-5, who will go through a draft next month. The nitty gritty will be discussed in the gab.

At the same time, Marcial said some non-PBA franchises have expressed interest to field squads in the 3x3 and the board will decide whether they’ll be allowed to participate or not.

Vargas and Marcial lead the delegation leaving for Milan on Monday to chart the league’s plans to “sustain the PBA’s status as the country’s leading sports entertainment.”

 Vice chair Bobby Rosales of Columbian Dyip, treasurer Silliman Sy of Blackwater and board members Alfrancis Chua (Barangay Ginebra), Robert Non (San Miguel Beer), Rene Pardo (Magnolia), Al Panlilio (Meralco), Rod Franco (NLEX), Raymond Zorrilla (Phoenix), Mert Mondragon (Rain or Shine), Erick Arejola (NorthPort) and Dickie Bachmann (Alaska Milk) have confirmed their attendance.

“It will be an exciting summit, and we’re all hopeful for fruitful talks leading to a joyful celebration of the league’s 45th season,” said Marcial.

The PBA’s continuing commitment to the Gilas Pilipinas program – short term and all the way through the FIBA World Cup in 2023 – is also expected to be tackled.

The most immediate task at hand is Gilas’ opening campaign in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on Feb. 20 and 23 with 13 pros named by the SBP to beef up the young guns in the 24-man initial pool.

“The league is still on a break in February, so the PBA players are free to join Gilas if they’re invited to reinforce the national team,” said Marcial.

Meanwhile, the PBA looks to continue its growth in terms of viewership on digital platform. In the recent season, the league got 1.5 million views on TV5’s digital arm during the epic triple-overtime quarterfinal rubbermatch between NLEX and NorthPort and enjoyed much more views during the finals between Barangay Ginebra and Meralco.

 “We’ve gone heavy on digital in the past season, and we intend to continue to do so,” said Marcial.

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