09 October 2015

Mahindra's Trick or Treat

Mahindra's Manny
By Rey Joble
InterAksyon.com, 6 October 2015

The Mahindra Enforcers may have begun to settle the contract disputes that have had them all over the headlines in the past several days but not before their players were able to disclose details about their plight with one of the PBA’s newest franchises.

Alex Nuyles, Hans Thiele, JR Buensuceso, Mike Burtscher and former coach Glenn Capacio all revealed stories of empty promises, tricky negotiation tactics, and misleading communication from inside what they perceived to be a disorganized organization.

Nuyles and Thiele both shared how they were convinced to sign contracts with terms that changed from what they were led to believe.

With the former Adamson Falcon’s contract set to expire last August, Nuyles signed a one-year contract extension but was surprised to learn that his contract was deemed invalid – and only because he question why he didn’t receive his salary as expected.

“Nag-end na yung contract ko sa kanila ngayong August, pero pinapirma nila ako July 29,” Nuyles told sportswriters. “Nagulat ako invalid daw. Nung nag-tanong ako ng September 15 kung bakit wala akong sahod, bigla nilang sinabi not valid daw yung contract.”

He was also frustrated due to the terms of his deal turning less and less favorable despite the team proclaiming its commitment to him.

“Una, sinasabi nila three years daw, tapos biglang naging two years, biglang naging one year. Tapos lately, sinasabi nila hindi ako fit sa system. Eh samantalang kelan lang sinasabi nila sa akin ako daw ang gagawin nilang core ng team nila. Biglang nagulat ako nung September 15, hindi na daw ako fit,” Nuyles said.

He said he was informed by team manager Eric Pineda to expect a dip in salary.

“Ibababa na naman daw yung salary ko hindi raw sila approve doon sa ibinibigay sa akin,” added Nuyles, recounting what the team exec told him.

The late timing of the contract troubles also left him in limbo with no leverage to find another team to potentially transfer to.

“Paano pa ako makakahanap ng team yung manager ko para sa akin, wala nang malilipatan. For me, walang protection. Basta mo na lang kaming ilalaglag,” he said.

Thiele, too, said he was misled by management when he was convinced to sign for a lower salary with the club. He said that he was led to believe that the additional benefits – the free use of a condominium unit and a car – would have made up for much of the lost income.

“Magaling sila manloko like sa case ko. Nagpirma ako ng mas mababang kontrata kasi nakiusap sila wala daw budget, then my free naman daw use ng condo and car so inisip ko na lang hindi na masyado malayo yung diperensya kasi I was renting din naman so yun pumayag na ako so I signed the contract,” Thiele said.

It was only after he signed up for the team when he learned the exact details of the benefits he was set to receive.

“Pero yung trick pala doon, ihuhuli nila papa-sign yung sa condo and car so separate na pirmahan. So once nakapirma ka na ng contract, sunod na darating yung separate na contract ng condo, so doon na lalabas na hindi one year pwede mo magamit ang condo. If you’re not part of the team – which means para sa kanila, pag na-reserve ka – pwede kunin sa iyo ang unit,” Thiele said.

“Yun nga ang dahilan kaya kami pumayag mag-pirma ng mas maliit na kontrata kasi para ma-balance out lang ng tirahan,” he added.

Buensuceso, meanwhile, was put in a very difficult situation as he made certain financial decisions under the belief that he had another year with the club.

“On July 14th, coaches and management sat me down to discuss my future. From there, they told me they will extend me one more year. There was a gentlemen’s agreement, tapos may tender offer pa,” he shared.

“Then in August, I noticed my teammates were signing new contracts. I kept thinking maybe my contract will come. Then Alex signed. After he signed, I got very worried. They said they will sign me for another year pero there’s nothing in writing yet. One week after the Rookie Draft, I met with Kia officials and gave me the bad news that the team had decided to go on a different direction,” the guard added.

“What really hurt me was I already got a house, I took my family to a vacation and was given assurance that don’t worry, you’ll be fine. You had another year with us. I was led to believe that I still had money coming in. If I had known early on that I had no more place with Kia, I wouldn’t have made the same decisions.”

Buensuceso was even told by management to report to the practice of another PBA club, the NLEX Road Warriors, which he was informed had secured his rights, but was surprised to learn that the team wasn’t expecting him.

“They told me to report to NLEX, that I have a chance with NLEX. Something like ‘All is not lost’. But no one from the NLEX organization had contacted me. So I did it on my own and messaged Coach (Boyet Fernandez). I asked him what time is the practice on Monday? I’m happy to make the team and show my wares again,” the player said.

“Nagulat siya. ‘We have no word of you coming in. Plus, there’s no space for you here’. It kinda hurt. So I asked the Kia officials regarding NLEX and they told me to just wait.”

He was eventually allowed to join practice but was informed that the team had no available space to offer him.

Mike Burtscher, meanwhile, could not hide his frustration relaying how he was left unpaid and did not receive any care from the club after he got injured more than five months ago.

The coach and players also rued the fact that they didn’t even have copies of their contracts, making it much more difficult to claim what they felt they were due.

“By the time na nakuha namin yung contract namin terminated na kami,” Capacio shared. “May 19 and a half months pa ako sa contract ko na parang bula lang.”

“They never gave us pay slip. Paano namin malalaman (yung deductions). Walang paper trail,” Nuyles added.

“Tapos yung contract nga, katulad nung kina Coach Glenn ang tagal ibigay. Ako never ako nakatanggap ng contract sa kanila. Kaya yung huling pinirmahan ko, para akong pumirma sa tubig. Hindi sila nagbibigay ng contract. Dapat pala kinuhaan ko ng picture.”

In his many years as player and coach in the PBA, Capacio, who has brought the matter to court to seek justice on his case, said this is the only disorganized organization he has been a part of.

“Basic lang ito, kahit ikaw mag-organize, ma-o-organize mo ito. Kahit wala kang background ng basketball dito o wala kang pinangggalingan, basic lang yung mag-organize. Itinerary lang hindi mo pa magawa. Out of town games, walang itinerary. Anong klaseng team ka?”

Nuyles added that during out of town games, members of the team were set to receive allowances, but these were not released until after they returned home.

SETTLING THE MATTER

Mahindra has begun to put things back in order. They’ve pledged to honor Nuyles’ contract extension and have agreed to a buyout of Burtscher’s (which is set to last until 2016). They may already be on their way to clear up the other concerns as well.

Pineda stated that management never had any intention not to honor the contract he signed and that some of the conflict was due simply to miscommunication.

But it is clear that the damage to their relationship with their players, to the trust they have from within their own personnel, that’s already been done. Their reputation as a basketball team has been hurt as well because, make no mistake, players from other teams have kept a close watch on the issue as well.

They may be able to settle all the disputes, make all the necessary amends. But bouncing back from this issue isn’t going to be as easy as that.

It will take more than just putting things in order to really clean up this mess.

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