Don’t look now but from my perspective, it looks like the Philippine Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association are both rebuilding, but in different ways.
Whereas the latter has already concluded two seasons, one a shortened bubble tournament and earlier this year a near-regular season, won by the LA Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks, respectively, the PBA, meanwhile, has completed its own bubble competition, but is now struggling with its new season, still under bubble conditions in Bacolor, Pampanga, with games being postponed because of health protocols under this pandemic situation.
In short, the NBA has already shifted to a team-rebuilding with a lot of major and minor player transfers concluded, while the PBA is still on its brand rebuilding stage.
And definitely, it is a bigger battle for the local league. Even before the pandemic, the league was already suffering from a continuous dip in live attendance, forced to compete with a lot of newer entertainment available to sports fans, plus traffic problems to boot going to its regular playing venues.
This is compounded by the perception among local basketball fans that the league has become a rivalry not between two teams like Crispa and Toyota, but between the groups of Manny Pangilinan’s MVP Group, and that of San Miguel Corporation, headed by Ramon Ang.
Add to this the fact that an all-amateur Gilas side beat a Korean team in the Asian FIBA competition did not help the cause of the PBA.
I will admit that I grew up in the 70s, 80s and 90s as a sportswriter with the PBA as my beat and I will always look back to those days with fond memories and a lot of personal friendships made that have lasted up to now.
Basketball and the PBA have been good to me, and even as I may have stopped watching live games for a long time, traffic being a factor as I live in Taguig, far from Cubao, I still follow the league on TV, but not with the same passion as before.
Actually, the Fil-sham issue then in the late 90s also affected my way of thinking towards the PBA, and I did not like what I saw and heard about these shameful foreign players, who swooped down on our shores to play, hoodwinking fans that they did have Filipino blood.
Does it mean I do not love the PBA anymore?
Not really, I have spent too much time in the league for it to disappear completely from my heart, and it saddens me to see the present situation of the struggling league.
And how I wish that this pandemic, as former American President Donald Trump put it, disappears like a miracle in the future as COVID has affected not only basketball but the whole world of sports as well.
The recently concluded people-less Tokyo Olympics is the perfect example. Ironically, it was also our most successful stint in the Olympic Games with a gold, two silvers and a bronze medal brought home by our national athletes.
So what happens now?
As long as the pandemic is here and uncontrolled, the PBA will continue to suffer. And first things first, COVID either disappears or at least put under control by authorities, then the PBA can address the other concerns concerning its viability as a business.
After all, the PBA is business, right?
Allow me to digress then. I tested negative in my swab re-test, but still staying put in the house amidst the frightening surge of the Delta variant of the virus. My family is still not allowing me to venture outside for the meantime.
Unfortunately, it has also affected our Ayuda Sa Atleta program for our national athletes as we had to curtail our activities. But even then, the national Sports Associations can get in touch with me to coordinate pick up of their eco bags from Annette Nelmida in Alabang.
My number is 0920 9241981.