PBA players are hoping they can resume training with their respective teams as soon as possible, most especially those with expired or expiring contracts.
While a number of players, including most of the big stars, will have their contracts expiring by August 31, there are players who were left without contracts during the stoppage of the season after their deals expired in May.
Veterans Asi Taulava and Cyrus Baguio, Sonny Thoss of Alaska, Magnolia’s Peter June Simon, and Davon Potts of Phoenix were all signed to six-month contracts before the pandemic forced the league to shut down last March 11.
Even rookie Jayvee Marcelino of Phoenix was inked to just a six-month deal.
All of these players are going to be the league’s first test cases since the PBA board unanimously passed a resolution leaving to teams the decision on whether to immediately sign or not those players with expired contracts.
A check with NLEX management bared coach Yeng Guiao and board of governor Rod Franco had already talked about the status of Taulava and Baguio, who both plan to retire by the end of the Philippine Cup until the outbreak of the pandemic changed the course of the season.
“Inaayos na 'yun. Alam ako kasi nag-usap na si CYG (coach Yeng Guiao) and Boss Rod tungkol doon,” said a high-ranking official who talked on condition of anonymity pending an official statement from the franchise.
It would be for the best interest of the players if they are signed right away.
But what if they're not?
One star player, who refused to be named owing to the sensitivity of the matter, raised the fear that these players with expired contracts would be left without salaries if the league stoppage lingers.
“No contract means no salary. Wala kang pinanghahawakan, di ba?” said the veteran cager. “Kung i-sign up ka agad, well and good. E, paano kung hindi? Sabihin sa iyo tsaka ka na namin papapirmahin pag magsimula na talaga yung liga (practice).”
By August 31, more players will have their contracts expired including stars such as San Miguel Beer’s Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot, Alaska’s Jeron Teng, Meralco’s John Pinto, the NorthPort duo of Paolo Taha and Nico Salva, and Phoenix’s Jake Pascual and Dave Marcelo.
Another resolution approved by the league board gave teams five days from the moment practices resume to sign up their players with expired contracts. Failure to do so will automatically make the players unrestricted free agents.
“Ibig sabihin nun, kung expired ka ng May or June and hindi ka naman agad na-sign ng team mo, wala kang suweldo hangga’t hindi nagsisimula magpa-practice ang liga,” said the player.
Expirees not signed up by their mother ballclubs will also not be granted their release papers during the break even if the players ask for it.
As it is, the league board has also put in place a freeze on the hiring of free agents, which means no ballclub can sign a player with a recently expired contract even if he has gotten a release from his mother team.
“We understand the teams, kasi wala ngang laro. But at the same time, sana may compromise din naman with those expiring players para hindi rin naman sila mawalan ng kabuhayan,” said the same source.
The player said approval by the IATF ((Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) of the PBA board-approved protocols that would pave the way for the resumption of team training would save the situation for most of these players.
He also added the move by commissioner Willie Marcial to have a dialogue with player-representatives of the 12 member teams would help them air their concerns during these troubled times.