AS much as he wants to maintain the fiercely competitive nature of PBA games, Commissioner Chito Salud issued an early warning that players who cross the line will be punished.
“The competitiveness of our league is very evident now,” said Salud in his opening remark on Sunday when Asia’s pioneering pro league kicked off its 38th season before a huge crowd of 18,901 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“Our games, exciting as they are, need not be marked by rough and dangerous plays. I will thus weed out those who don’t play correct basketball.”
Salud’s warning came in light of several skirmishes among players that marred the various preseason games, including one where a rookie was chased out of the gym by rival players.
The commissioner said he doesn't want the gains the league made last year to go down the drain, citing the record P114 million in gate receipts achived a season season which he said was made possible by a 22 percent increase in live attendance.
“The core values must be embedded more on our players,” stressed Salud, “particularly our rookies who will carry the torch of the PBA in the years to come.
"We want a PBA that is fiercely competitive, `yung balansyado, pero may integridad, merong sportsmanship, at merong fairness."
Members of the board of governors took center stage shortly after Salud made his opening speech as they personally presented to the crowd their team’s respective muses.
As expected Barangay Ginebra received the loudest ovation after league chairman Robert Non was introduced together with the Kings’ muse, popular model Georgina Wilson.
Also drawing a lot of attention were San Mig Coffee governor Rene Pardo and muse Anne Curtis, Global Port team owner Mikee Romero accompanied by Sam Pinto, and Petron governor Ely Capacio with dashing Isabelle Daza.
Following suit were board vice chairman Ramon Segismundo of Meralco and Artista Academy member Sophie Albert, Talk `N Text's Patrick Gregorio and Alice Dixson, former chairman Atty. Mamerto Mondragon of Rain or Shine and Mutya ng Pilipinas 2012 Camille Guevarra, Air21's Lito Alvarez and Miss Earth 2012 Stephany Dianne Stefanowitz, Alaska's Joaqui Trillo and Rizzini Alexis Gomez, and Barako Bull's Manny Alvarez along with Cianne Simones Xavier.
Each of the 10 teams were later introduced and paraded around the court, before members of the Smart Gilas-Pilipinas 2.0 were presented to the crowd and honored for their successful title campaign in the recent 34th William Jones Cup basketball tournament.
After addressing the fans by saying `sa ligang ito, kayo ang bida,' Non officially declared the 2013 season open.