23 August 2014

Only the Blind Will Deny PBA's "Special Treatment"

Will anybody still trust the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) management?

Rocked with allegations of unfair trades, existence of farm teams, non-calls of obvious infractions during crucial games, crude way in selecting rookie draft order and favoritism to accommodate high-profile personalities, trust in Asia's oldest professional basketball league may be at its all time low.

Commissioner Chito Salud may brag about isolated fan attendance during championship matches, but everyone doubts that the same confidence will extend if the total number of patrons for both playoff and elimination rounds are considered. Does anybody still believes that the league can generate sales tickets comparable to like 8-10 years ago?

The latest controversy involves the alleged special treatment accorded to the draft application of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.

The 35-year-old boxer went to the league office in Libis to have his biometrics measured after failing to attend the two-day Gatorade Draft Combine last 18-19 August 2014. Pacquiao said he was attending to some pertinent matters in Sarangani Province, where he is the district’s lone representative to the House of Congress, and could not make the draft camp.

There is nothing wrong with the excuse submitted by Pacquiao and the PBA was just respectful to the country's boxing sensation when it extended it operation to accommodate him. Except that draftees in the past were not given the same consideration even if they have more valid reasons.

Worse is that the flimsy excuse of Pacquiao was taken hook, line and sinker by the PBA. It was all over the news that the boxer played a game with his MP Hotel team in a Davao invitational tournament last 19 August. The game may have been at night, but if the travel time was factored in, he could have attended the biometrics, skills tests and scrimmages in the Gatorade PBA Draft Combine.

Also, if Pacquiao did indeed finish the required tests, why was the result kept from the media and why was it held in close doors? Other PBA hopefuls were freely evaluated by PBA scouts, basketball analysts and avid fans when they worked their butts off at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong. Why make special arrangement with the boxer? Did he really undergo the test or not?

Salud later on reiterated the league is not giving the global boxing icon any special treatment.

"Walang special treatment. Valid ang excuse niya (Manny) kaya ok sa PBA," said Salud, who added Pacquiao always tries to keep in touch with his office and ask about the different activities happening around the league.

Try a little harder Commissioner Salud. Deflecting the issues by making it appear that Pacquiao was really concern about the PBA and the principle behind the league will only go so far. Fans have seen how the games are being handled and how competitiveness was sacrificed and mocked by several questionable decisions.

There is team parity in the PBA right now, but only special accommodation to the few and moneyed individuals and corporations.

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