The honeymoon period usually accorded newcomers but which PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa shuns when the 41st season begins in October, it turns out, is all wrapped up decked with card and ribbons and ready to be delivered courtesy of, believe it or not, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
Narvasa said during the PBA board of governors planning session in Tokyo recently that he doesn’t need to be cut a slack or given the usual courtesy as a neophyte on the job, insisting that he prefers to hear bad news and criticisms as soon as possible.
“Game na agad. Wala ng honeymoon period,” Narvasa said. “Bring to our attention at once all complaints so we can act on them immediately.”
Guiao, however, won’t take no for an answer.
“I think at the start of the term of anybody, we should give them the benefit of the doubt,” he said by phone yesterday shortly after arriving from a 10-day family vacation in Seattle. “We gave the same to Chito Salud sa umpisa. So anyone, kung sino man yon, should be given the same courtesy.”
Much has already been written of their supposed friendship which took roots when they started coaching against each other in the PBA back in ‘90s. Guiao said it wasn’t an overnight thing though.
“We were not very close back then; magkalaban pa nga kami in college – Ateneo siya, UP ako,” Guiao said. “But coaching in the PBA brought us closer because both of us were in the same predicament, the same situation.”
An ‘affinity’ among coaches, Guiao said, is inevitable in basketball.
“Kahit nagkaka-inisan kayo sa laro, galitan…at the end of the day, friends pa rin kayo. Don nag-umpisa.”
Their comradeship ultimately became tighter when Narvasa became a member of the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippine (BCAP) which Guiao headed.
“Chito was very helpful to the point that his brother (lawyer Ogie Narvasa) became our legal counsel,” Guiao said. “We exchanged notes sa coaching. I also knew his other brother, his family. Yung tatay niya (former Supreme Court Chief Justice Andres Narvasa), contemporary ng tatay ko (former Pampanga Gov. Bren Z. Guiao). Don nag-build up.”
Informed that Narvasa had jokingly told reporters that, as a buddy, he expects Guiao to maintain his yearly “contribution” to the league in the form of fines, Guiao broke up in laughter.
“Walang problema don,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to be a issue, yung fines.”
Neither does Guiao see anything wrong with Narvasa’s plan to “put order in the court” by taking away much of the referees’ discretionary powers.
“I think that’s the right direction,” Guiao said. “We’ve experimented in allowing a certain degree of physicality in the games. Ang naging problema, too much leeway was given the referees in making judgment calls. Naging inconsistent and tawagan. There’s no perfect officiating, we know. Coaches understand and can accept one or two mistakes by the refs, even their players. Pero pag five, six, seven mistakes na, unacceptable na yon.”
Guiao, who served as commissioner of the Philippines Basketball League in 1997 at the height of its popularity, said the late Roehl Nadurata, who acted as PBL technical chief, operated on an uncomplicated but rigid principle which the PBA could perhaps adopt.
“Coach Roehl’s basic philosophy is that referees should never decide the outcome of the game,” Guiao said. “He always reminded our refs that only players and the teams can decide the result. He never condoned refs who underperformed or influenced the outcome. That is his main philosophy. Then he installed a system. Now, as I understand it, Commissioner Narvasa is putting up his own system. Pinoporma nya. Maganda yon.”
Ahead of Narvasa’s planned consultative tour of the 12 PBA teams to get the coaches’ views, Guiao has this to say though by way of kicking off the honeymoon period for his pal: “A certain degree of physicality has to be retained, but keep it managed. People come to watch intensely-fought games. They like tough, hard-fought contests where players give it their all.”
Ok yung no more judgment calls. But just keep the physicality under control. Pag inalis mo naman kasi yon, baka wala namang manood sa’tin.”
Early enough feedback, Commissioner?