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    PBA voided this 16-year, P96M offer sheet to Danny Ildefonso. Here's why

    It was the single biggest offer sheet in PBA history. But it all went to waste
    Apr 29, 2020

    IT was, by a mile, the biggest offer sheet in the history of the PBA. It was so big that it shook the very foundation of the pro league and threatened to drive a wedge between one ballclub and the rest of the member teams.

    Almost two decades since it happened, the offer sheet which then San Miguel Beer star Danny Ildefonso received from Tanduay still astounds, not just for the eye-popping figures contained in the contract but more for the firestorm it triggered.

    Just look at the numbers.

    * The P96 million was just for the base salary, which would've guaranteed Ildefonso of the league's maximum salary [it was P500,000 a month during that time, but down to P420,000 nowadays] until 2016, when he was 40 years old.

    * The lucrative bonus scheme in the contract included a won-game bonus that started at P50,000 in the elims and climbed to P60,000 in the semifinals and P70,000 in the finals. The offer sheet also included a P5,000 annual increase in the won-game perks, which would've meant a P125,000 won-game bonus for Ildefonso in the final year of the contract.


    The offer sheet dwarfed the eight-year, P48-million contract which Kenneth Duremdes signed with Alaska off an offer sheet by Mobiline just days earlier as well as the 12-year, P72M offer of Tanduay to Sta. Lucia's Marlou Aquino.

    But to be fair to Tanduay and Ildefonso's then agent William Ong who negotiated the offer, the terms of the contract didn't violate any of the specific provisions of the league's salary cap rules that were in place during that season (2001).

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    However, it never got to a point where Ildefonso's mother team San Miguel had to decide on whether to match the offer or let go of its star player.

    The offer sheet, which was made just days before the start of the season, was voided by the PBA Commissioner's Office which instead asked Tanduay management to restructure the contract it offered to Ildefonso.


    In a ruling handed down by then commissioner Jun Bernardino, the PBA said the offer sheet - in form and substance - went against the spirit of the salary-cap rule which was enforced to "contain a [bidding] war among the teams and keep compensation expenses of players by the teams within manageable and affordable levels."

    The league particularly took issue on two things: the Ildefonso bonus scheme which it said had the potential to use up the bonus allotment allowed by the salary cap for the entire Tanduay team; and the 16-year length of the contract which league officials described as "unrealistic" and "out of this world."

    "It was considered absurd then," recalled a PBA old-timer, pointing out that the 16-year duration of the contract went beyond all foreseeable league structures like the television contract and the tenure of the member teams.

    "Ni hindi nga sigurado then kung may liga pa after 16 years," he added.



      In the end, Tanduay ended up withdrawing the offer sheet, but by then the damage was already done. The Ildefonso brouhaha was just one of the many cracks in the relationship between the league and Tanduay which left the PBA soon after, selling its franchise to FedEx at the end of the 2001 season.

      The pro league learned its lesson and strengthened its salary-cap rule, putting a limit on the length of players' contracts (it was capped at five years then, now the maximum is three) and on won-game bonuses (P6,000 maximum for the elims, P7,000 for the semis, and P8,000 for the finals) which still stands to this day.


      As for Ildefonso, the two-time MVP ended up signing a one-year deal with the Beermen just to be able to play that season. He signed a couple more long-term contracts with the ballclub before the two sides parted ways under acrimonious circumstances in 2013 when the pride of Pangasinan was left unsigned.

      Ildefonso ended up playing for Meralco before retiring in 2015 - one year before the supposed end of that Tanduay offer sheet. He is now an assistant coach at Alaska.

      Get more of the latest sports news & updates on SPIN.ph

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