PBA teams finally agree to form search committee for new commissioner

ByJay King

PBA Media Bureau

A resolution of the conflict that has split the Philippine Basketball Association appears in sight as five minority teams supporting embattled commissioner Chito Narvasa have agreed to the formation of a “search committee on the new commissioner.”

The disclosure was made on Monday night by Blackwater owner Dioceldo Sy even as the governors and the league administration staff led by Narvasa are set to leave Los Angeles, California Wednesday.

Sy said he feels the five teams supporting Narvasa — San Miguel, Barangay Ginebra, Star, GlobalPort, and Kia — are ready to yield to the majority in the 12-team board that doesn’t support the renewal of the commissioner’s term for PBA’s 43rd season.

“After the fires that have happened – the Voltes Five and the Magnificent Seven, I think tension is gone already,” Sy said. “I think the five teams have realized already that majority, which is the seven teams, is not happy with the commissioner, plus a big part of the netizens, the public are also unhappy.”

He expressed hope that the new commissioner would be “non-partisan” and “fair to all the teams.”

Sy revealed that the conflict in the PBA Board of Governors reached a point when the seven teams demanding Narvasa’s removal threatened to pull out of the league that would have led to a lockout.

Sy said the seven teams that comprised the majority in the board—TNT, Meralco, NLEX, Alaska, Rain or Shine, Phoenix, and Blackwater—threatened not to allow their players to play when the five squads constituting the minority insisted that Narvasa should stay on as commissioner.

“At that time, our stand is if you force it, the seven teams won’t play, so there’s going to be a lockout,” Sy said on Monday night. “The five teams cannot play on their own.”

The Blackwater owner, however, added that the conflict simmered down after the five teams agreed to the formation of a “search committee on the new commissioner.”

“I just hope there’s no lockout. I don’t like to see the NBA lockout a few years ago when there’s no tournament. We need to give the fans…December 17, the PBA should be on the road already,” Sy said.

The conflict erupted when Narvasa approved the controversial trade between San Miguel Beer and Kia that enabled the Beermen to grab highly coveted Fil-German big man Christian Standhardinger as their No. 1 overall draft pick in exchange for three bench players and a future draft pick.

Sy said he is optimistic that the board can reach an agreement before the scheduled opening of the new season on Dec. 17.

The board had been expected to reach such an agreement in Los Angeles during the governors’ annual planning session. However, no such agreement was reached after four board members skipped the meeting, turning the Los Angeles trip of the other governors into a sightseeing tour.

“I heard there’s already a search committee to see who are the available candidates (for the next commissioner),” Sy said. “We hope something will come out when they come back. Maybe next week, there should be some good news. We just hope for the best.”

The Blackwater governor’s brother, Silliman Sy, represented the team in the planning session.