If former PBA commissioner Noli Eala were in Chito Narvasa’s shoes, he would consider stepping down.
In a wide-ranging interview on Eric Menk’s “Staying Major” podcast that Menk shared on social media Wednesday, Eala made the suggestion because he thinks it’ll be “very difficult” running a league when a majority of the board members don’t approve of him.
“Commissioner Chito is under the gun,” said Eala, the PBA commissioner from 2003 to 2007. “He cannot govern without the full support of the board. It’s going to be very difficult. If I were him, I would consider having a transition. I would consider leaving.
“It’s not easy to hear that you have 7 teams that are not supporting you. It’s even harder to know that these 7 teams think that you’re with the 5 other teams, that you’re biased for the 5. Never mind if it’s just, ‘I don’t like the way he’s running the league.’ But if they say, ‘He’s part of that 5 other teams,’ that’s even worse.”
The PBA was thrown into turmoil in recent days when the board of team governors drew battle lines, with one group of 7 teams opposing Narvasa’s tenure and seeking a leadership change and another group made up of the other 5 teams favoring Narvasa.
The team representatives will be in the US next week for a planning session, where Narvasa’s term will be discussed.
Eala said he personally knows Narvasa and that he doesn’t believe Narvasa favors one group over the other, saying “(Narvasa) may have had a few decisions I think were questionable, but he has all the good intentions for the league and I think all commissioners do.”
But Eala said he sees the opposing groups — the 7 aligned with the Manny V. Pangilinan clubs and the 5 led by the San Miguel Corp.-owned teams — standing their ground.
To break that deadlock, Eala suggested Narvasa make “the supreme sacrifice.”
“That’s when you’re bigger than your position, and I know Chito doesn’t need the position,” Eala said. “He’s a self-made man, good businesses. I think at the end of the day, he’ll make the right decision.”
Eala said the 7 teams against Narvasa’s leadership could’ve approached the issue differently.
“Going out on the press, going out on social media and criticizing the commissioner and telling everyone that we’ve lost confidence is not the best way to handle it,” Eala said.
“These are gentlemen who run their companies and I don’t see them doing this to their CEOs. I don’t see them saying, ‘I’m firing my CEO because I’ve lost confidence in my CEO.’ They just make their CEO quietly leave their company.”
But Eala added: “On the other hand, the commissioner completely disregarding a majority of the league is also not the way to do it.”
The much-criticized trade that sent Kia’s No. 1 pick, in the person of Christian Standhardinger, to San Miguel Beer is one of the points of contention between the rival board groups.
Eala said if the rookie draft isn’t helping weak teams improve, “then certainly there must be something wrong.”
After his time as PBA commissioner, Eala worked as the San Miguel Corp. sports director and executive director of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the sport’s national governing body which is being run mostly by Pangilinan’s allies.
Since leaving the basketball scene, Eala said he has been focused recently on running a school and a hospital, mostly flying “under the radar.”
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