FANS continued to be baffled by the coaching set-up at TNT, where the title of head coach belongs to Bong Ravena even though active consultant Mark Dickel is the one calling the shots for the Tropang Giga.
The confusion has inevitably spawned unpleasant comments, more so each time Ravena takes part in postgame press conferences, which, to be fair, is part of his duties as the officially designated head coach of the Tropang Giga.
Ravena and Dickel became head coach and active consultant, respectively, following the exit of Nash Racela in 2018. They have led the franchise to two finals appearances so far, including the ongoing Philippine Cup opposite Barangay Ginebra.
To those still not in the know, TNT had no choice but adopt the set-up since Dickel isn’t allowed to assume the “head coach” job due to a Court of Appeals ruling in 2002 in which foreign coaches are covered by Article 40 of the Labor Code.
The article states as follows:
“Any alien seeking admission to the Philippines for employment purposes and any domestic or foreign employer who desires to engage an alien for employment in the Philippines shall obtain an employment permit from the Department of Labor.
“The employment permit may be issued to a non-resident alien or to the applicant employer after a determination of the non-availability of a person in the Philippines who is competent, able and willing at the time of application to perform the services for which the alien is desired.”
In layman’s term, Dickel cannot secure a work permit from the Labor Department because there’s a Filipino coach capable of performing his duties.
The Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines (BCAP) secured that CA ruling, which became final and executory when it went uncontested before the Supreme Court, becoming the ground on which BCAP stood in opposing appointments of foreign coaches in the past like Rajko Toroman (Barako Bull), Todd Purves (San Miguel), and much earlier the likes of the late great Ron Jacobs (San Miguel), Paul Woolpert and Bill Bayno (both with TnT).
However, the CA rule doesn’t cover the job of consultants, allowing Dickel and - before him - Purves and Toroman and Jacobs for a time to coach in the pro league through a 'loophole' in the law.
Jacobs, Tim Cone, and Norman Black later became exempted from that law after marrying Filipinas, making them permanent residents with right to work.
Being a non-resident alien, Dickel, a former member of the New Zealand national team who was recommended to the position by his former coach Tab Baldwin, is required to get a work permit from the Labor Department to be able to coach in the PBA.
The BCAP said the rule doesn't cover the head-coaching position of the national team since the job is 'temporary,' but insisted in the past that it should cover college basketball as well, where Baldwin, for example, coaches Ateneo in the UAAP.