THE third-party agency that helped PLDT arrange the scrapped 'Last Home Stand' event featuring Gilas Pilipinas and a team of NBA stars admitted that a request for a sanction was turned down by the US league.
East West CEO Maria Espaldon, A US-based Filipina events organizer, admitted that as early as April, the NBA has already turned down their request for a sanction of the two-game event in Manila.
“We wrote the NBA that we are holding a charity event, that’s what happens in the US for example, there are games that players play for the love of the game … for charity,” Espaldon said.
“So when we applied that this is just for charity, we proposed it in April this year, and they told us that the sanction deadline has passed, we asked to give us an exemption and they said no,” she added.
When the request for a sanction was denied, Espaldon said they re-formatted the two-day event in such a way that it would conform with all the rules of the NBA regarding such events.
Speaking in the same hastily called press conference, PLDT chief Manny V. Pangilinan said the 'Last Home Stand' was patterned after similar events in the US that went on without a hitch.
“The way we planned this event was legitimately a clinic,” Espaldon said.
However, the promotional materials for the event weren't clear that it was merely a clinic and some Gilas players admitted to Spin.ph that they went to the Big Dome expecting to play a full-on, five-on-five game.
The event turned haywire when the players beginning with the Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry got calls from the US warning them about possible sanctions if they take part in the games.
“We had made all the plans to actually have a game. We ended up today last minute, the players had an emergency meeting and Kyle Lowry claimed he had a call and was worried about his career,” she said.
Asked why they still gambled on holding the event considering that the NBA has already declined to sanction it, Espaldon insisted it wasn't a gamble since they conformed with all the NBA requirements.
“It’s not actually a gamble (pushing through with the event), we did a lot of due diligence on the events that we run, they actually told us that we can bring the players for clinics but not a full-on game,” she said.
“So we asked, what do you mean by a full-on game, and they gave us a list of their requirements and all of it we were able to meet,” he said.
The NBA, however, think otherwise as it released a memo through the Players Association warning all the players not to engage in “some kind of exhibition of basketball skills including shooting games and dunk contests."
The memo also said the NBA "has taken the position that any such exhibition or competition is unallowable and is not approved for player participation under the [Collective Bargaining Agreement], regardless of whether it is incorporated into a 'clinic' or other 'benign-sounding activity.'"
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