Current PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial is on his second year in the position, the very first Commissioner to benefit from an overdue change made by the PBA Board of Governors on the term of office for the position last year.
But the truth is, he is already on his 35th year in the league which he joined in 1984 as a statistician, steadily moving up to occupy different positions as a panel scorer, floor director, and under then-Commissioner Noli Eala, he was given the enviable task of heading the PBA Media Bureau concurrent as Assistant to the Commissioner.
Given a choice, he is even looking beyond 2020 when his term expires and is more than willing to go back to his former position as media head.
“PBA ako all the way at nagsabi na rin ako sa board na willing nga ako bumalik sa dating puwesto ko. PBA na kasi naging buhay ko,” said the 57-year-old Marcial.
His life has changed since being the league’s commissioner. What has n’t changed though is his being down to earth. He also stuck to Filipino as his means of communicating to the team owners, board members, players, fans and especially to the sportswriters on the beat whom he all claims as friends.
“Mas naintindihan kasi ako kahit sino. ‘Yung mga fans nga sa stands ‘pag umaakyat ako ay hindi naiilang makipag-usap sa akin. Pero sa totoo lang, marami talaga nagbago sa buhay ko nu’ng naging PBA Commissioner ako last year, isang position na ni hindi ko pinangarap dati. Kaya nga na mi-miss ko talaga ‘yung old days na kasama ko mag-hang out at magkipag-kwentuhan sa mga sportswriters,” said Marcial.
He added that before, he was the one offering suggestions to past commissioners as he has served under four PBA chiefs before finally becoming one himself. But now, the tables are turned as he is now the one asking for ideas and making decisions.
“Palaging may mga meetings, walang katapusan kaya dapat may time management sa araw araw, “ continued Marcial.
Marcial at the time of the interview was at the very first and highly successful PBA Media Day with PBA players, coaches and officials at the Solaire Resort and Casino a few days before the league opened its 44th season. He cited the event as one of his contributions so far to the league, together with the regular home court visits by PBA players and teams to different barangays and schools, initially limited to Metro Manila. Since then, it has grown in popularity that the PBA has been receiving a lot of invitations and requests for appearances by its players outside Manila.
Marcial accepts, too, that even as he is enjoying the job, it comes with a lot of challenges, the biggest of which is how to recover from the 15%to 20% drop in gate attendance in 2018 due to a lot of factors, including uncontrollable ones like the daily traffic going to the venues and economics, plus having shortened conferences to give way to the national team, which he says the PBA will continue to support.
“Ito ang pinakamalaking challenge sa akin ngayon, paano namin ma-convince ang PBA fans na manood ng live games at hindi lang sa TV. Kaya nga mayroon kaming bagong marketing group na maraming pakulo at promotion para sa mga fans na manonood sa venues. Target namin ay maibalik ang gate attendance doon sa 2017 figures,” said Marcial.
What will happen to the PBA this season may be uncertain in terms of the results of the league’ s renewed marketing efforts, but one thing is definite. This PBA Commissioner will be with the PBA for a long long time, officially or unofficially, whether or like the PBA wants it or not. That is how much he loves the game and the PBA.
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