MACAU – With record total gate receipts of P114 million last season, PBA officials are convinced they have done a wonderful job and their aim is to do better, presenting more competitive and more exciting games for the 38th PBA season set to start Sept. 30 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Even as they deferred decision on the proposed sale of the Powerade team to Sultan 900 Capital Inc., the PBA board approved a three-conference format among 10 teams with some tweaks particularly on the third conference which was the weakest earner among the three tourneys last campaign.
The assumption obviously is that Sultan's takeover of Powerade will be approved, making young business mogul Mikee Romero the newest player in the country's premier league.
"Mikee spends from P50-P80 million a season in the ABL and that's for only six months. It only indicates that he can sustain a team in the PBA," said new PBA board chairman Robert Non.
"But then their papers are still subject to evaluation. They’ve submitted their corporate papers but not yet the deed of assignment. Without the deed, we still have nothing to approve," Non also said.
Non of Barangay Ginebra presided over their planning session after having been formally elected as new PBA board chairman. Meralco's Mon Segismundo and Petron's Ely Capacio were elected vice chair and treasurer, respectively, in their annual conference also attended by former chair Mert Mondragon of Rain or Shine, B-Meg's Rene Pardo, Talk n Text's Patrick Gregorio, Barako Bull's Manny Alvarez, Alaska's Dickie Bachmann and Air21's Sheila Lina and Lito Alvarez.
The PBA board is likely to hold a special meeting at home Friday to decide on the proposed sale.
Expect the return of Best Import awardees Denzel Bowles and Jamelle Cornley since the board decided to keep unlimited height for imports in the second conference and a 6-foot-5 limit in the third conference.
Needless to say, the league is keeping the three-conference format with its great appeal to the fans – the biggest factor in the marked increases in gate receipts, live attendance and TV ratings the last two years.
"It's the first time that the league hit the P100-million mark in gate receipts. The league enjoyed a nine-percent increase in live gate attendance from last season and it's the highest increase ever since 2004," said PBA commissioner Chito Salud.
"The mandate given the commissioner is to top those numbers. We're taking the challenge to break it," Salud added.
Salud said they’re aware the simple formula is to present what the basketball fans want – balanced, exciting games.
"The fans have made it clear. They want fast-paced, competitive games. We'll try to elevate our game a notch higher each year. The aim is to make the games more exciting," said Salud.
Formats of the Philippine Cup and the Commissioner's Cup will be practically the same as last season.
The Governors Cup adopts a new formula where the 10 teams figure in a short single-round-robin elimination with eight advancing to the playoffs. The top four teams carry a twice-to-beat advantage over the next four in the quarterfinals. The winners advance to the best-of-five semifinals.
"The third conference last season was the weakest because it's not a matchup tourney. We tweaked it for the fans," said Salud.