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New PBA search on

The search for the next PBA commissioner may have been overcome for now by the need to fill up fast another important position within the league hierarchy – that of technical director.

With the sudden passing of Ramil Cruz during the PBA All-Star Weekend in Palawan a few days ago, the league lost a vital cog between PBA coaches and the referees, a direct link for the ballclubs to the Office of the Commissioner on matters pertaining to the game’s rules and regulation.

Cruz, a member of the 1986 UAAP champion University of the Philippine Fighting Maroons under coach Joe Lipa, previously served as the PBA’s technical supervisor before getting appointed technical director last Feb. 27.

He would have played an instrumental role when the new commissioner takes over, forming a partnership that would have helped define the newly-restructured office and promoted the successful programs introduced by outgoing PBA commissioner Chito Salud.

A suspected cardiac arrest on the eve of the All-Star Game ended all that possibility however.

Salud, who announced several weeks ago that he was stepping down after five years at the helm, had held a parallel position during the OIC tenure of former Commissioner Sonny Barrios before assuming office in 2010.

Now the PBA is without the person, other than the commissioner, directly involved in addressing concerns regarding officiating.

“Siguro si Commissioner Chito muna ang gaganap nang role na yon,” said PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial. “Mahirap din makahanap ng papalit ke Coach Ramil e.”

League operations chief Rickie Santos previously had the technical committee function under his watch and could again be tapped to fill the vacancy until a replacement is found.

Another option is to have former PBA technical official Perry Martinez, who drops by every now and then to provide TV commentary on specific calls, to appear on a more full-time basis.

The PBA Board of Governors, led by chairman Patrick Gregorio of Talk ‘N Text, announced last Monday that they had asked Salud to stay on in a CEO (chief executive officer) capacity in charge of the league’s marketing, finance, admin, and legal departments and that the son of former PBA commissioner Rudy Salud has accepted.

That left the PBA’s search committee with the job of looking for a commissioner that will serve practically the role of a tournament director, handling game concerns in both the PBA and D-League and the officiating.

Cruz would have played an integral part in that setup, with him, the next commissioner and Salud, as CEO, charting the league’s course in coordination with the policies to be laid out by the PBA board.

The triangle setup has lost a key angle however, and a replacement is needed fast.