17 February 2015

Part 1: What is the Legacy of Commissioner Salud?

Salud Resigns
First of Four Parts

It should be all over the local basketball section of your sports daily by now, but just to emphasize Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner Atty. Chito Salud announced on 15 February that he will be stepping down as the League Commissioner at the end of the season.

"With due and respectful notice to our team owners and board of governors, I have decided to step down and relinquish my position as PBA commissioner at the end of this season," said Salud right after the conclusion of the Meralco-GlobalPort game.

"After five years as commissioner, I believe the time is right to pass the baton to a new and fresh leadership, a fresh face with a fresh voice and fresh ideas that will take the league to greater heights."

"There will be a proper time to acknowledge the members of the PBA family and our friends in media whose selfless and generous support I shall always be grateful for," Salud added. "In the meantime, we remain focused on our task of running the league and constantly improving the quality of games we deliver to our fans."

So what are the lapses the PBA committed in the term of Commissioner Salud since taking over the reign from Sonny Barrios in August 2010?

'Farming' and Lopsided Trades

In 2011, there was an allegation that San Miguel Corporation’s (SMC) three teams in the PBA, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, Purefoods Star Hotshots and San Miguel Beermen (Petron) are using Barako Bull Energy Drink as their ‘farm’ or a source of fresh talents.

The allegation made more sense after Barako Bull sent its top three picks, namely Noy Baclao, Rabeh Al Hussaini and Rey Guevarra to the Beermen for veterans Danny Seigle, Dorian Peña, Dondon Hontiveros and Paul Artadi. The transaction cast a dark cloud of doubt on the integrity of Salud, who was a former Director at Petron Corporation.

Baclao was the 2010 top pick over-all in the draft while Al-Hussaini and Guevarra are second and third picks. On the other hand, Seigle is long considered a washed-up player, who had seen his better days in the league, while Pena and Artadi are role players, who have limited offensive skills. Hontiveros was once among the most feared hitmen in the PBA but his performance has likewise declined during the last few conferences.

In early 2012, Salud approved the five-man transaction that would bring then-star rookie Marcio Lassiter from the Powerade Tigers to the Petron Blaze Boosters despite rumors that San Miguel Corporation (SMC), which owns the Boosters, is rumored to be buying the Tigers’ PBA franchise.

Both companies denied the sale, and it was announced later that the franchise was eventually sold to Sultan 900, Inc. which is owned and represented by its chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael "Mikee" Romero. Romero is the owner of the GlobalPort Batang Pier.

The PBA prohibits direct trading between two teams owned by the same company.

In the new trade, Powerade sent Lassiter and Celino Cruz to Petron for Guevarra, Al-Hussaini, and Lordy Tugade. The PBA described the trade as having “acceptable parity” for both sides.

Powerade went through with the deal despite an earlier pronouncement from coach Bo Perasol that he would prefer that the team not trade Lassiter, the team’s second-leading local scorer and the top candidate for the Rookie of the Year award.

(To be continued ...)

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