The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) we have right now is very different from the league we grew up with.
Back in the day, teams like Sta. Lucia, Shell, Swift (for a time Pop Cola and Sunkist) and Alaska, which were not part of a conglomerate, could win a title, even dominate the league.
Alaska did that in the mid to the late 90’s, even winning a grand slam in 1996 and almost repeating the feat in 1998 if not for the National cause.
Trades then were equal. Players of equal value were swapped with each other. The PBA top management respected the Filipino basketball fan who is one of the most intelligent I’ve seen in the world.
You cannot fool a Filipino basketball fan. Basketball is beyond his passion or religion. It is the air he breathes; it is the blood that runs through his veins. Basketball is tantamount to life for Filipinos.
In the last few years, many fans have noticed that only two conglomerates have dominated the professional league. I’m referring to teams under San Miguel Corp. and the MVP group.
“Independent teams” like Alaska and Rain or Shine and Phoenix have managed to at least reach the semis or win a title or two, but it is clear that the PBA has become the playground of the two rival conglomerates.
Fans are even questioning the participation of teams like Globalport, Blackwater and Terrafirma, who were part of questionable trade transactions with teams under the two conglomerates.
With the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer in the PBA, the final outcome of every conference is predictable.
Dear PBA bosses: the fans are not only Ginebra, San Miguel or Magnolia fans, or TNT or Meralco fans.
Listen to the greater fan base. They are your lifeblood. They are getting fed up.
You are closely becoming a laughing stock. Don’t insult your fans with unequal trades. You are insulting their intelligence.
Listen to them before there is no fan left watching your inter-conglomerate sportsfest.
Truth to be told, you have already become one.
Until the day comes when Terrafirma will battle Blackwater or Globalport will match up with Phoenix in the Finals, it will be hard to convince us ordinary fans that you are a credible and balanced league.