[EDITOR'S NOTE: Over the years, Spin.ph has been routinely getting questions from readers about a variety of subjects - from tournament formats to player salaries to schedules to rules clarifications to personal information about players. Some may seem trivial, but obviously not for readers who take the time to toss the questions on our social media pages, begging for an answer. That's the reason we've come up with this Q & A section, in the hope of clearing up some matters for our readers. Here's Part III of the series]
Question: Is a contract clause guaranteeing a PBA player's participation in the Gilas national team program allowed by the league under the terms of its UPCs (uniform player's contracts)?
Answer: Technically, a clause guaranteeing a PBA player's availability for the national team is allowed by the league, but such clauses are not contained in a player's UPC (official contract) but in a side contract entered into by player and team. That means it's an agreement entered into by the player and his mother team.
Such clauses came under the spotlight in the wake of a statement made by Paul Lee's agent, Lawrence Chongson, that he will insist on a clause guaranteeing Lee's availability for Gilas the next time they sign a contract, after the Rain or Shine guard's current deal expires at the end of the coming season.
Such clauses are actually nothing new. There have been previous reports, although unconfirmed, that LA Tenorio's handlers succeeded in having such a clause inserted in his side contract with Alaska before he was traded to Barangay Ginebra. It is not known if the clause is still part of Tenorio's contract to this day.
A check with the PBA showed such clauses cannot be inserted in a player's UPC, which only contained general provisions about the player's basic salary and length of the agreement (PBA officials, however, said new UPCs are being printed to allow for provisions containing a player's bonuses).
Agreements between player and team not contained in the UPC are placed in a side contract which the teams attach to the UPC. The side contract usually contains clauses on a player's bonuses for won games, titles, individual awards as well as other agreements entered into by both parties.
According to the PBA, there are only three provisions disallowed in a player's side contracts: statistics-based bonuses (example, extra bonus if player averages more than 20 points a game in a season), automatic adjustments in a player's salary based on an increase in the league's individual salary cap, and gaps in between contracts (example, a player whose old contract expires in August cannot be made to sign a new contract that takes effect in October).
To be clear, there is nothing in the league's by-laws that disallows agreements between a team and player guaranteeing a player's availability in the event he is called up for Gilas duty. There is also nothing to bar a player from demanding a no-trade clause in his contract.
One well-known player agent we talked to confirmed that he once tried to insert the 'Gilas clause' in the contract of one of the more than three dozen players in his stable.
However, he bared the player's mother team struck down the provision.
"Hindi sila pumayag," the player agent, who requested that he not be named, told Spin.ph, insisting it was the team - and not the league - which did not agree to the Gilas provision.
Veteran player-agent Danny Espiritu agreed that a 'Gilas clause' is a valid provision in a PBA player's contract, although he admitted never coming across one in his more than three decades in the business.
"Wala pa akong nakitang precedent," Espiritu, who has Gilas mainstays Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, Dondon Hontiveros, and Gary David among his more than 70 clients, told Spin.ph.
But while it is now clear that Gilas clauses are permitted in a PBA player's contract, we've learned that the final say on a pro player's participation in the national team still rests in the league and its board.
In a resolution passed when it first started lending players to the Gilas program, the PBA board moved that a PBA player's participation in the national team must have the approval of three entities - the player, his mother team and the league.
So our question is: Does this resolution mean that any prior contractual agreement between player and team on the player's availability for Gilas be supplanted at the board level?
We'll leave you to come up with the answer.