Coming off a record season that had the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) breaching financial boundaries it didn’t expect, Asia’s pioneering pro league is now bracing for a plunge.
Season 48 opens in the middle of October with the Commissioner’s Cup where the import height limit was slashed down an inch—with a reason—and the league confirming the participation of the Bay Area Dragons with reduced concessions compared to the last time.
Imports standing no more than 6-foot-9 will be tapped and PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said that this was a consensus reached among members of the board in their planning session here in Paris, the glitzy fashion mecca, to assure that teams get the “best talents available out there.”
“The board knows that around the time of our opening, imports who are 6-10 or bigger will be busy trying to make NBA teams,” Marcial said on Saturday. “We want the imports who will play their hearts out and not think of a stint with us as a stepping stone.”
Having the best possible talents playing would more or less help the league avoid “taking a 30-percent dip” from the record bottom line the PBA enjoyed the last season, a number the board is ready to take to give way for the country’s participation in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup.
Barangay Ginebra is the defending champion, and unlike last year, Tim Cone, his gritty Gin Kings and the rest of the local field will now know who they will face as far as the guest team from Hong Kong is concerned.
Unlike last year when the league allowed Bay Area the luxury of having two imports, the Dragons are now stuck with just one, and in all likelihood, it will be Andrew Nicholson. The PBA will also screen all of Bay Area’s other players seeing action as locals.
Marcial, meanwhile, was given a fresh three-year term as the 10th commissioner.
“I am very appreciative of their trust,” Marcial told the Inquirer during a break in the session. “And like I have always done in my first five years, will try to better their expectations of me and my office.”
Marcial will be entering his sixth year at the helm, and with a new deal, will join Jun Bernardino and the late great founding commissioner Leo Prieto as the longest-serving commissioners in PBA history.
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