BLACKWATER team owner Dioceldo Sy urges that now more than ever, this is the proper time for the PBA to consider reverting to a two-conference format for every season.
Sy said three conferences per year no longer appear viable especially with the league forced to tweak its schedule from time to time to adjust to the new FIBA format, and thus resulting in the overlapping of its playing calendar for a season.
Scheduling became an even bigger problem now that the coronavirus pandemic forced the PBA to suspended its young season that saw the its initial offering Philippine Cup play just its opening game day before the Enhanced Community Quarantine was imposed on the entire Luzon island.
“I’m all for it (two conferences). I’m a long proponent of two conferences even before this coronavirus outbreak,” said Sy on Tuesday.
The PBA Board is set to convene in an online meeting later in the day to discuss measures on how the rest of the season will proceed especially with the quarantine period being extended to another two weeks, or until April 30, by President Duterte.
Commissioner Willie Marcial mentioned that making do with just two conferences this season or even adjusting the All-Filipino meet to just one long tournament are among the options being considered by the board and league think-tanks.
But for Sy, the two-conference set-up which he’s been advocating informally in the past, is practical.
“I think we can do away with two conferences with an import. Just an All-Filipino and one conference with import [na] 6-foot-9 and above. Nagawa naman na ng liga ito before, so I don’t see any reason why we can’t do it now.”
The league modified its format to a two-conference season when Noli Eala became commissioner in 2003, specifically to give a PBA-reinforced national team the time to prepare for major FIBA-sanctioned tournaments.
The set-up was retained by Eala’s successor Sonny Barrios until the league returned to its original three-conference system by the time Chito Salud took over.
The only other time the PBA had two conferences in a season came in 1981 when the country first hosted the Southeast Asian Games.
Sy is aware the PBA has an agreement with most of its sponsors about the number of games it should play in a season, which will likely be reduced if only two conferences are held in a year.
But there’s always a compromise, he added.
“Puwedeng mahabang tournament yung Philippine Cup, and then the same with the import-laden conference. It may not approximate the number of games of having three conferences, but nasa bargaining na yan.”
Sy said the PBA is perhaps one of the few leagues in the world with long playing calendars, one that lasts nine to 10 months in a year.
With a reduced tournament, Sy said players will be less prone to injuries.
“Makakapahinga rin ang mga players, hindi rin yung bugbog talaga,” added the long-time team owner.
For the 12-member ballclubs, it may also meant lesser exposure and gains, but it’s a sacrifice everybody in the league should take, Sy added.