Representatives of Kia Motors and Blackwater Sports won’t partake of red wine with the world famous tapas and the mouthwatering tortilla Espanola and seafood paella with the rest of the PBA board in sunny Seville, Spain late this month. But they will be on hand for the hot and spicy kimchi and grilled bulgogi washed down with smoldering jin rho when the league governors visit chilly Incheon, South Korea in mid-September.
The first will be the occasion of the 17th FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain where Gilas Pilipinas, as one of three Asian representatives, will meet some of the globe’s top cage powers, including co-Group B mates Greece and Argentina.
The second will be for the 17th Asian Games where a vengeful South Korea awaits to inflict the same moral anguish the PBA-backed Gilas squad and 12,000 screaming, weeping supporters dealt them in last year’s FIBA Asia Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“The 10-man PBA board, along with Commissioner Chito Salud, will review and evaluate the 39th season in Spain, while the representatives of Kia Motors and Blackwater Sports will join the governors in Korea where preparation for the the 40th season will be extensively discussed,” said league media bureau chief Willie Marcial yesterday.
Talk ‘N Text board representative Patrick Gregorio, the incoming PBA chairman, will preside over both foreign-laced planning sessions.
Gregorio, a former TOYM awardee, will assume the chairmanship from outgoing Meralco Bolts governor Ramon Segismundo during the Aug. 24 Rookie Draft at Robinson’s Place in Ermita.
The 40th PBA season unfolds with the Philippine Cup on Oct. 19 at a yet to be disclosed venue.
Traditionally, PBA inaugurals are held at the historic Smart Araneta Coliseum which can accommodate up to 25,000 sitting and standing patrons. But the construction of the mammoth Philippine Arena, a 55,000-capacity multi-purpose indoor arena at Ciudad de Victoria in Bocaue and Santa Maria, Bulacan, might offer irresistible challenge.
PBA operations chief Rickie Santos said a few days ago that the “mandate” of the PBA board is to secure the two main venues – the Smart Araneta Coliseum and the Mall of Asia Arena – for the coming season, with the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna and the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City as potential alternate playing courts.
Following its much-publicized inauguration last July 21, however, the imposing Philippine Arena, owned by the Iglesia Ni Cristo, now looms as a huge possibility.
It is not likely though the PBA will plunge headlong into negotiations with the Philippine Arena management without first posting notice with the Smart Araneta people. That, then, may be the first order of business for the league if and when.
Meanwhile, rookie draft applicants have reached 78 as of yesterday, the eve of the deadline for registration set for PBA wannabes.
“We had 85 last year,” said Marcial. “We’re still awaiting last-minute registrants.”
Among those the PBA could be waiting for before the doors close are talented D-League players Bobby Ray Parks, Kevin Alas and Garvo Lanete.
Indications point that a number of big names are not going to make the big leap to the pros this year. “Sabi nga raw, pero malay mo, di ba? Basta open pa kami for rookie applicants until today,” said Marcial.