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Segismundo pleased with 39th season

RAMON Segismundo

PBA chairman Mon Segismundo looks back at the 39th season two days before he presides over his last Board of Governors meeting in Libis, Quezon City and likes what he sees: Two fresh franchises, a third new ballclub, and three more applicants on the horizon.

“It’s something I’m truly pleased with,” said Segismundo yesterday.

Manny Pacquiao’s Kia Motors and businessman Dioceldo Sy’s Blackwater Sports have purchased brand new PBA franchises reportedly worth a million each, while NLEX, owned by telecommunications tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan, has bought lock, stock and barrel the Air21 Express franchise for at least double that amount.

“That’s certainly an expanded cast of members and a really positive development for the PBA,” said Segismundo, board representative of the Meralco Bolts.

Taking his turn at the chairmanship for the 40th season in October is Talk ‘N Text alternate governor Patrick Gregorio, also the head of Maynilad Water’s
Commercial and Marketing division. Fueled by an 8-point program at the start of his term, Segismundo vigorously pushed for an increase in PBA membership and a more active involvement by the league in the Gilas Pilipinas program.

He achieved both with sterling results.

It was in Sydney, Australia during the board’s planning session last year that the team governors got the chance to visit the world renowned New South Wales Institute of Sports and were amazed at what they saw.

Segismundo then made arrangements for a team from the institute, led by Filipino-Australian sports trainer Danny Martinez, to fly to the Philippines this year to give PBA referees a seminar on physical and psychological preparation.

“That happened a few weeks ago at the JCSGO gym in Cubao at the height of Typhoon Glenda,” said Segismundo. “What they basically equipped the referees with are confidence and courage, and also the ability to persuade the fans that their calls are right. In addition to the technical skills kasi, what’s important is mindset of the refs.”

Other than the arrival of new teams, Segismundo takes pride at the possibility of women referees calling PBA games in the near future.

About six to nine female game official applicants are currently undergoing training and were with the PBA group that worked with the Australian crew that visited weeks ago.

“The good thing about this is we automatically double the talent base for prospective referees since females can now apply,” Segismundo said. “But of course it will be up to the commissioner when they will actually be fi elded.”

The August 24 Rookie Draft, where Pacquiao is expected to be taken by Kia Motors with the 11th pick overall, will be Segismundo’s last public event.

“Chairman Pato (Gregorio) and I will probably hold a transition meeting in Spain during the FIBA World Cup,” he said. “I’m pretty sure he will be continuing what we have started. After all, our philosophies are aligned. We’ll likely discuss how to make the PBA even stronger and better. We’ll be finding ways to make the league the darling of Philippine sports.”

Segismundo begged off from answering questions regarding recent coaching changes at Meralco, with former TNT mentor Norman Black taking over from Ryan Gregorio and ex-Alaska coach Luigi Trillo coming in as an assistant.

“No comment muna ako diyan,” he said.

Black is currently vacationing in his hometown in Baltimore but said in a text message that he will be joining the national team in Spain on Aug. 23.