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‘Marcial Law’ in full effect

Willie Marcial, who held various positions in the Philippine Basketball Association since its infant years, was given the biggest role of them all when he was appointed commissioner by the league’s board of governors yesterday.

PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas of TNT KaTropa formally announced Marcial’s appointment after an annual board meeting held in the league official headquarters in Libis, Quezon City where all 12 team representatives expressed no objection towards handing the reins over to the longtime official.

Marcial was given a three-year term while retaining his role as head of media affairs.

“It was an appointment without any objections,” said Vargas, who later called Marcial the “healing commissioner” in reference to the impasse that marred the league’s offseason.

The board had given Marcial a 30-day term as Officer-In-Charge after a division between member teams ended in the resignation of Chito Narvasa last December.

Marcial immediately implemented changes within the league, namely the hiring of a five-man committee to oversee trade proposals, allowing more physicality during games and the creation of a CSR project known as the “PBA Hardcourt”.

“The PBA Board has gone through a very difficult time before the opening of this season, and we’re looking for somebody who can put it together and help us heal, since there will be a lot of changes as we move along,” said Vargas. “We felt that it is very appropriate na we have somebody like Willie who will see us through this organization, thru its process.”

Marcial, 56, completed a rags-to-riches story that began when he worked as a statistician for the PBA during the latter years of founding commissioner Leo Prieto.

He then became one of the men working behind the scenes when Vintage Sports handled the league coverage during the tenures of Mariano Yenko, Rudy Salud, Rey Marquez and Jun Bernardino.

When Vintage Sports seized coverage of the PBA in 2002, Marcial was named media bureau chief following the appointment of former broadcaster Noli Eala, retaining the post during the terms of Sonny Barrios, Chito Salud and Narvasa.