Why was PBA absent in NBA-Gilas project?

THE morning after the frigging, freaky fiasco, I wanted to toss it completely into the dustbin of history.  Forget the bad, immediately; and, remember the good, always.

But, hey, folks, what really happened?

 You are set to explode one for the books and yet, it turns out to be a dud.

 You want to make people happy but, in the end, you end up the unhappiest person on earth.

 You mean very well and yet, in the end, you become from hero to heel.

 Suddenly, you are the planet’s loneliest person. Criticized.  Hated.  Vilified.  

 That is what tycoon MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) is today, and my heart goes to the man behind the busted “The Last Home Stand.”

 MVP virtually single-handedly put up the Gilas-versus-NBA Stars game at the Cubao Big Dome.

 He had men, all right, to do the spade work, arming them with his millions to ensure a trouble-free game for the ages.

 Oodles of money had been spent to finance the event to both raise money for typhoon victims and give our Spain-bound Gilas basketball team its last tuneup game on home soil as well.

 All the ingredients of a project worthy of our patronage were there, like a kalderetang kambing embellished with garbanzos and black olives, and a liberal dash of grated Gouda cheese to boot to make it a party’s pulling power beyond compare.  

 And imagine MVP coughing up a fortune, literally, as the eight or so NBA stars—their salaries computed at no less than a combined P3.6 billion—were jetted in first-class and billeted virtually at a P20,000-a-night hotel.  And if my mole’s right in his calculation, each one of the NBA Stars received no less than $150,000 pocket money. That’s nearly P6.5 million each for a two-day non-work for our visitors. Gosh, I have yet to just caress that amount in bundles, nor have a sniff of it, in my almost 40 years of sportswriting. Whoa!  Who said life is fair?

 But horrifically, bizarrely, for MVP, hours before the Gilas-NBA Star game was to be held, he was told it wouldn’t materialize.  Turns out MVP’s contact in America failed to secure a permit from NBA officials in the US allowing Kawhi Leonard, James Harden and the rest of the NBA Stars to play against Gilas.

 If, as a result of the game’s cancellation, MVP’s world had caved in, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit.

 To his credit, though, MVP took matters in stride and he was composed all the way as he apologized for the monumental boo-boo.  Surely, some of his men goofed and if heads in MVP’s bevy of supposedly intelligent lieutenants would roll in the aftermath of the nation’s sports disaster of the year, sorry.  You blew it, you pay the price.

 I have but one question: Is it true the PBA was not invited to be part of the project?  For, I believe the disaster would have most probably been avoided if the PBA had a hand in it.

 For one, PBA Commissioner Chito Salud, being a lawyer of note if you still don’t know, would have scrutinized even the minutest details of the contract to ensure that even the tiniest loophole was plugged.

 For another, the PBA-organized game of July 2011 between another batch of NBA Stars (Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant and four others) and PBA Stars led by James Yap held successfully here (NBA won 131-105) would have easily been used as the template for the “The Last Home Stand.”

 Well, it’s all water under the bridge now as we love to say.  But, if there’s a valuable lesson learned here, it is this:  Never again will the PBA’s power and influence be ignored in future projects of this magnitude. 

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 ALL IN    I think it is unwise to have only one team for both the Spain Fiba World Cup and Korean Asian Games.  Two weeks after Spain, we have the Asiad in Incheon.  Would our Gilas players not be that overworked once they start campaigning for the Asiad gold?  Now I know why Sonny Thoss and Greg Slaughter had begged off from Gilas.  The rigors of training alone are that energy-sapping; include yet the actual battles during the tournament.  Yes, even Larry Fonacier, Gilas’ pure shooter, was justified when he pulled out of the team, citing injuries that might yet worsen in Spain and Korea and could eventually threaten his PBA career.  Good job, fellas. 


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