THE dissension was still palpable, but the PBA board was able to put up a united front - or at least a semblance of it - to ensure the league's 43rd season opens as scheduled this Sunday.
Members of two warring factions within the league board sat in one table, conversed with each other, and occasionally shared laughter just like they often used to do in the past during the media launch of the new season on Wednesday.
Still, tension was evident inside the grand ballroom of Okada Manila.
During the question-and-answer portion, PBA director for communications Willie Marcial politely asked mediamen to refrain from asking about the current leadership imbroglio and the status of commissioner Chito Narvasa.
The only thing he can assure was the Philippine Cup starting on schedule on Dec. 17.
“I think we’re a very solid group right now. The promise which I made (during the PBA Press Corps Awards night about the PBA opening), that came from all 12 teams that come December 17, we’ll be up and running,” said outgoing chairman Mikee Romero, who stood as the spokesperson of the group during the press conference.
“Now this Sunday, what we shall be watching are the players. Forty three years. Ang masasabi ko lang, let the games begin,” added the Globalport team owner.
The 12 member teams - seven from the side that want Narvasa out and the five which stood behind the beleaguered commissioner - were all represented during the event.
Present were incoming chairman Ramoncito Fernandez (NLEX), Robert Non (San Miguel), Dickie Bachmann (Alaska), Siliman Sy (Blackwater), Bobby Rosales (KIA), Alfrancis Chua (Barangay Ginebra), Rene Pardo (Magnolia), Erick Arejola (Globalport), Atty. Mamerto Mondragon (Rain or Shine), and Atty. Raymund Zorilla (Phoenix).
Ryan Gregorio represented Meralco in the absence of governor Al Panlilio, while Magnum Membrere came for TnT Katropa on behalf of Ricky Vargas.
Narvasa sat with members of the league’s management committee and kept a low profile, answering just one question about the PBA commitment on the availability of players for Gilas Pilipinas in the next window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers in February.
As incoming chairman, Fernandez guaranteed a lot is in store for the coming season, but would rather keep everything under wraps for the moment.
“There are a lot of plans, we can’t just scream it out,” he said. “Definitely, what the board promises is that we will have a more exciting year and we’ll continue to delight the millions of fans of the PBA. With your support, we’ll continue to make the PBA very relevant to the Filipinos.”
Owing to the impasse, the league decided to make the opening ceremony of the all-Filipino tournament a rather simple one.
“We still have a meeting with ManCom and TV5. Nagahol sila sa oras dahil sa mga pangyayari,” said Marcial. “Meron tayo kahit kaunting opening, pero meron tayong parade (of teams). Sigurado yun.”
As for the rest of the details, guess we just have to watch them unfold.