PBA sets more ‘homecourt’ visits
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — PBA OIC commissioner Willie Marcial said yesterday San Miguel Beer guard Alex Cabagnot, Meralco forward KG Canaleta and legend Vince Hizon will headline the next “homecourt” tour to promote the league in barangays through unannounced goodwill visits.

Last week, Rain Or Shine center Beau Belga, Magnolia forward Rodney Brondial and legend Benjie Paras made surprise appearances in barangay Marilag in Quezon City and barangays Jesus de la Peña and Tanong in Marikina to kick off the “homecourt” visits that Marcial hopes to schedule at least thrice a month.

The next tour will be on Tuesday. “We’re looking at three prospective sites to visit and we’ll decide the day before we go,” said Marcial. “We’ll keep it a secret because we want to make every stop a surprise.” The reception in the first tour was overwhelming as the PBA players were mobbed by fans, young and old alike. The PBA group also dropped by an open street concrete court where Belga, Brondial and Paras joined ballers in shooting at a rim that had a torn net. Shirts, basketballs and game tickets were distributed.

“We want to bring the PBA close to where the fans are,” said Marcial. “In out-of-town games, we’ll stop by places where there are basketball courts when it’s not a game day. I think this connection with the fans will go a long way in growing our league.”

Marcial said he will activate a five-man committee whenever a trade is proposed for approval. So far, no trade has been submitted since Marcial took over as OIC commissioner at the start of the year. The members of the committee are Marcial, technical director Eric Castro, technical assistant Mauro Bengua, technical supervisor Roscelle Teotico and legal counsel Melvin Mendoza. Marcial will cast his vote to approve or disapprove a trade only if there is a 2-2 stalemate. He said former PBA player Tony de la Cruz has suggested a rating system as a guide in determining if a trade is fair or not.

“We’ve invited Tony to sit with the committee and discuss his concept,” said Marcial. “He’s proposing to rate players from 1-star to 5-star where, for instance, JuneMar Fajardo is a 5-star. The rating will be based on statistics, age, ability, experience, position, value to the team and others. We’ll study the system.”

Marcial said he’s given the go-signal for TV commentators to call it like it is. “We’re listening to the fans,” he said. “The PBA fans are intelligent and know the game. There will be no suppression of comments from the TV panel but we’re hoping the commentators don’t misuse this liberty and they exercise responsibility.”

TV5 sports head Patricia Bermudez-Hizon welcomed Marcial’s initiatives. “We’re 100 percent behind OIC commissioner Willie,” she said. “We want the game to not only be better but also faster, more entertaining and a little more fierce. We’re encouraged by the timing of the games. From a TV time of 2 hours and 19 minutes on the average, we’re now down to 2 hours and 11 minutes, including the pre-game.”

Marcial said other plans on the table are honoring “heroes” during Sunday games and inviting fans from barangays on a rotating basis to watch the games for free on Wednesdays. The “heroes” may be a taxi driver for honesty in returning the wallet left behind by a passenger, an OFW for exemplary service or a military man for bravery in action.

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