SEOUL - The PBA is looking to spice up its coming 42nd season with an invitational tournament, eyeing top teams in Asia to be seeded into the Governors Cup playoffs.
This is in connection with the objective of new PBA board chairman Mikee Romero to broaden the reach and create a new fan base for the local pro league.
It’s also in line with the vision of league commissioner Chito Narvasa to make the PBA the center of basketball excellence in the region.
"This is one new dimension,” said Romero, referring to the invitational that he hopes will help achieve his goal of attracting new PBA fans.
Romero, the GlobalPort team owner and 1Pacman party list representative in Congress, said high on their list are top club teams from Iran, Lebanon and South Korea.
An invitational tourney used to be a regular fare in the local pro league in its early years. In fact, one American team – Nicholas Stoodley – topped the tourney in 1980, whipping Toyota in two straight games in a best-of-three finale.
In the 1977 Invitational, Toyota swept past Emtex Brazil in a best-of-five titular series. Five years later, the Lee Chung Hee-led South Korean team finished third behind San Miguel Beer and Crispa.
The PBA also held the Invitationals during the time of Commissioner Noli Eala.
PBA Season 42 opens, as usual, with the Philippine Cup on November 20. Next up is the Commissioner’s Cup featuring imports with a height ceiling of 6-10 then the Governors Cup with a height limit of 6-5 for the reinforcements.
There will be no more handicapping system. “The board has decided it’s time for the new teams to step up,” said Narvasa.