THE PBA has justified the inclusion of Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga in the nine-man selection committee that picked the additions to the PBA’s ’40 Greatest Players’ list, saying the congressman has been a keen follower of the sport since the 1960s.
League media bureau chief Willie Marcial admitted Barzaga is the lone non-basketball personality in the group headed by cage legend Robert Jaworski Sr. and former Senator Freddie Webb.
But he added Barzaga definitely knows his basketball, having been a keen observer of the game dating back to the days of the defunct commercial league MICAA in the 1960s.
He is also the head of the House Committee on Games and Amusement, Marcial added.
“Nakita namin na may alam siya sa basketball. In fact, siya ang head ng (House) Committee on Games (and Amusement),” Marcial told Spin.ph on Thursday.
Marcial said Barzaga said he himself heard the Cavite representative show a deep knowledge of local basketball history while engaging Jaworski in animated talks regarding the MICAA.
“Nagku-kuwentuhan pa nga sila ni Senator Jaworski about yung Ysmael (team). Pati si Papa (Adriano, Jr.) nga alam niyang naglaro sa Crispa,” Marcial added.
Barzaga’s inclusion in the selection committee came into question amid a furor over the group's choices for the additional 15 players to the original ’25 Greatest List’ the league honored 14 years ago.
Marcial, who is also special assistant to commissioner Chito Salud, said the committee was formed some eight months ago with Jaworski and Webb as the heads of the group.
The two top basketball figures were eventually joined by league chairman Patrick Gregorio, vice chairman Robert Non, veteran sportswriters and columnists Quinito Henson and Barry Pascua, and Barzaga.
Former Alaska board governor Joaqui Trillo and Inquirer sports editor Teddyvic Melendres were also part of the committee but did not attend Monday's meeting.
Barzaga made the news earlier this year when he urged the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) to strip Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter and San Miguel Beer gunner Marcio Lassiter of their licenses for turning down the invitation to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba-World Cup and the Asian Games.