Is the PBA still PBA?
FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - November 2, 2017 - 4:00pm

The Philippine Basketball Association was born in 1975 when 9 teams from the defunct Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA) broke away from the clutches of the BAP-controlled amateur league.  Team owners were not in favor of BAP’s practice of getting their players for the national team without prior consultation.

U/Tex, Concepcion Industries, Mariwasa, Crispa, Royal Tru-Orange, 7-Up, Tanduay, Toyota and Presto Ice Cream were the league pioneers and undersized centers like Manny Paner, Jimmy Mariano, Rudy Kutch and Alberto Reynoso were having their ways against up-coming big men Mon Fernandez and Abet Guidaben.Although it was a Crispa-Toyota domain for the next ten years, Mariwasa-Honda, Royal Tru-Orange and U/Tex managed to change the championship monopoly.

The mid-80s saw the rise of the Presto/Great Taste franchise when they had Ricardo Brown and Manny Victorino, then considered as one of the top 3 centers of the PBA along with Fernandez and Guidaben.  Between 1984 to 1990, the franchise won 6 titles, the last one behind Allan Caidic, Gerald Esplana and 1990 top pick Apet Jao.The Purefoods era began in the 90s with the entry of Jerry Codinera, Jojo Lastimosa, Alvin Patrimonio and Glen Capacio.  The franchise now known as Star Hotshots had won 13 titles.

There were notable bigs from the late 80s to the early 90s like Jerry Codinera, Benjie Paras (Shell), Bonel Balingit (Swift), Jun Limpot and Dennis Espino (Sta. Lucia) and EJ Feihl (Ginebra).  Feihl, despite standing 7-1, was a flop to put it mildly.  Before the 90s ended, brothers Andy and Danny Seigle, Ali Peek, Eric Menk and Asi Taulava tested the brawn of home-grown bigs Cris Bolado, Wilmer Ong, Marlou Aquino and Danny Ildefonso.

Gone were those days when there was some semblance of competition.  Lesser teams were given some chances of acquiring talents to help them rise from doormats to at least dust pans.  It’s not happening today.

The new millennium entered and Asia’s first professional basketball league had become of late,a sub-kingdom of two of the country’s top corporations, fielding three teams each.  Half of the 12-team pro league belongs to the SMC- and MVP-led groups.  The other six teams belong to different enterprises. When the 2017 Governors’ Cup ended, surprise, surprise, the top six spots were monopolized by the two corporations.

The league floundered and swam thru countless issues since its inception and the sitting honcho that we have now is practically a controversy factory.  Since his reign, he has banned a sportswriter from attending PBA games, quarrelled with an import and a Cebuano hotshot, suspended referees for a crucial non-call that resulted to a loss of his close friend’s team.  The same friend who’s a team official was seen on national TV vaping courtside that drew criticisms but the friend was only given a gentle tap on the wrist.  No need to talk about his latest genius act.

Reports now say that the PBA board, during a recent special meeting, passed a resolution that will not support the renewal of his contract at the end of the league’s 42nd season.  So until the 43rd season opens, we’ll expect some more drama from the commissioner as he cannot be simply kicked out as removing him needs a two-thirds majority vote, meaning eight members. 

The SMC group pulled a superpower move and what would prevent the MVP group to do the same, as in I-can-do-better-than-you kind of thing.  They could make a repeat of the 2015 Troy Rosario deal and swap KIA’s 2019 top pick for a bunch of bench residents.

KIA’s blunder was confusingly justified as “position-less basketball” by a team official.  Of all my years following the sport, this is completely alien.  Let’s face it.  KIA’s basketball existence, with all their sublimely glorious transactions, defines weakling at its finest.  So what exactly is this crap? 

In my limited understanding of team administration, figuratively, this position-less b-ball is something like making a puppet out of a team and letting the powers-that-be pull the strings.  Literally, why oh why would you intend to put up a team with players having no definite playing positions.  They’ll be like cockroaches scampering in all directions.  Because they’re adapting this kind of ball, naming the team after their vehicle models would be an injustice to the well-performing four-wheelers.  Will KIA Jellyfishes do?

It would be nice to see Chooks-to-Go join the PBA and likewise the franchises of Great Taste and Tanduay making a comeback.  Not only will mga bata’ng pier have beer, gin and rum, we’ll also be having hotdogs and manok ng bayan as pulutan.  Don’t worry about getting home late to the wifey, she’s just a call or text away and ask her to prepare coffee with milk to neutralize the alcohol.  You’ll always be safe going home in a KIA fuelled by Phoenix on an expressway brightened by Meralco. Lodi.

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