CHICAGO - From what I'm told, you'd have to circle the Philippines twice to find one soul that doesn't like Willie Marcial.
And that's so easy to believe.
Even from my distant perch, the sitting PBA commissioner comes across as an earthy figure who can make a loner smile.
But when it comes to judging him as a great leader, I'm stuck on the fence with two thumbs tilting slightly downward.
A year and eight days after being suspended for mugging TNT import Terence Jones, Calvin Abeuva hasn't been reinstated yet. And if this doesn't bother you, it should.
The mercurial guard is a family man with mouths to feed and bills to pay. Yes, Abueva can be a jerk, but he is not an irredeemable jerk. He had shown remorse for his infractions while his actions - conducting basketball clinics and feeding coronavirus frontliners - reflect a desire to be an upstanding citizen.
For his penance, the reward is more time to wade in the sea of uncertainty, where he is slowly drowning.
Unless the suspension has been upgraded from indefinite to eternal, the PBA needs to address this immediately. In the realm of justice, even the offender deserves an equitable relief.
And there's none here.
If anything, the PBA only added a layer of cruelty to his punishment by allowing Abueva to join Phoenix's team practice but not play. That's like telling a really hungry house guest that he can't eat any food but is welcome to loiter in the kitchen and smell what's cooking.
When the whirling tempest that is Jimwell Torion got unhinged in 2003, then PBA commissioner Noli Eala acted swiftly, suspending the Cebuano hothead indefinitely before shedding it to eight months upon appeal.
Two words describe the Torion case. Due process.
Three words describe Abueva's state of limbo. Process is overdue.
When Ron Artest swung his fists recklessly during the 'Malice in the Palace' fracas last November 2004, he was suspended for the remainder of the season which was no more than seven months.
For a far less egregious offense, Abeuva is now serving 373 days of pain.
"Requirements," Marcial told SPIN.ph yesterday. The commish politely declined to reveal the details, and one source told me it's because there's an urgency to keep it confidential.
Fair enough. But complete the process already and do not hide behind the thicket of COVID-19.
The painfully slow adjudication of this case should be the watershed moment for PBA players to seriously consider forming a union that will advocate for them and protect them from unfair and unjust penalties.
I've never met Calvin Abueva in my life. Never spoke to him. Never saw him play.
But I am crying for him.
Left for adoption at three months old, here he is now, 32 years old and anxious.
Abandoned by the league he loves.