Yeng Guiao, the quick-tempered head coach of Rain or Shine, has declared a ceasefire ahead of the assumption of office of Chito Narvasa as the ninth commissioner of the Philippine Basketball Association.
Though the flame-throwing Guiao made no promises to be on his best behavior once Narvasa takes a seat any day soon beside outgoing commissioner Chito Salud as an “apprentice” in the Governors’ Cup, he nonetheless gave the impression he wasn’t about to scare Narvasa off either.
“You give somebody a chance naman,” said Guiao. “I know Chito to be a very intelligent person and his learning curve will be short. Then he should be able to get the hang of it.”
Narvasa was unanimously chosen by the PBA board of governors to succeed Salud, who steps down at the end of the 40th season, and will have his first official function in August during the annual PBA Draft.
“He’s a good choice for two reasons,” said Guiao. “First, he has a good grasp and understanding of the rudiments of the game, having been a player and a coach at the same time. It’s something previous commissioners didn’t really have. Second, he is an accomplished corporate manager and technocrat. Meron siyang managerial and administrative skills combined with the technical knowledge of the game.”
A political endorsement couldn’t have been more glowing, but it’s understandable: Guiao was president of the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines before Narvasa took over years ago and their relationship was never strained even when they coached against each other.
“I remember him as someone who also demands the best from officiating,” Guiao said. “He was always on top of the situation.”
But Guiao, a provincial congressman when he’s not rallying Paul Lee and Beau Belga to war or going after erring officials, was not all sugar and spice, quick to point out what Narvasa’s priority should be.
“From my understanding of his functions, his biggest challenge would be to keep the teams happy with the officiating. Kung magagawa niya yon, that will further strengthen the league and its image,” Guiao said.
And how does he propose that Narvasa do it?
“First, he has to bring together all the stakeholders – coaches, referees, even team owners or governors – and have some sort of officiating summit, collect all ideas and then consolidate kung ano ang puwede i-implement o di puwede,” Guiao said.
“Another thing, there has to be a public education on officiating for the public to differentiate good calls from bad calls. Our audience knows a good player from a bad player, but do they know a good referee from a bad one? Officiating is an integral part of the game and the last thing we want is for officials to decide the game. What’s happening a lot of times, refs will decide the game and then they apologize or get punished later. Pero wala na, na-decide na yung outcome. Nangyari na.”
And how long a honeymoon period can the incoming commissioner expect from him?
“Well, let’s see. Matagal-tagal pa naman yon e,” Guiao said laughing.