Salud says a ‘special guest’ will grace opening of PBA's 40th season - but keeps identity under wraps
Chito Salud is keeping mum on plans for the opening ceremony set at the 55,000-seat Philippine Arena in Bulacan next week. Jerome Ascano

A SPECIAL surprise guest will serve as keynote speaker as the PBA honors the league’s founding fathers during the opening ceremony of the 40th season on October 19.

But on who it would be, Commissioner Chito Salud is not saying.

Seven executives have succeeded the late founding commissioner Leo Prieto, various corporate minds helped turn the basketball league into a thriving business, 25 top players were named the PBA’s greatest list 15 years ago and a new list of 40 brightest PBA stars will be unveiled this season.

But league officials refused to divulge the identity of the guest, with Salud only saying that the festivities set at the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena in Bulacan will honor the PBA’s “founding fathers” who started Asia’s first play-for-pay league back in 1975.

“Ang una ay ang paghanga at pagpugay sa founding fathers of the PBA, sa pioneering generation that followed after them, sa lahat ng mga heroes, sung and unsung, na dahil sa kanilang pagpupursige, we are where we are today,” Salud said during the PBA’s press launch at the Edsa-Shangri la Hotel on Tuesday.

Salud said the PBA is blessed to celebrate its 40th season in the “position of strength," considering that the pro league has gone through countless umber of challenges since its inception in 1975.

“We are celebrating our 40th year from a position of strength, rather than weakness and surviving for 40 years in the face of non-stop challenges and stiff competition,” he said.

“Pasasalamat that our pioneering generation had the wisdom to lay down the immutable values of integrity, sportsmanship and fair play, and that public and fan interest is paramount; values and principles that the PBA can turn, time and again as the simple secret to its longevity and success,” added Salud.

Prieto, who coached the Philippine men’s team in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics that placed seventh, served as the PBA’s commissioner from 1975 through 1983.

Under Prieto’s watch, the PBA gained public awareness through the fierce basketball rivalry between Toyota and Crispa, with the Redmanizers winning the grand slam in 1976 and 1983.

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