Limpag: PBA and Philippine basketball

Mike T. Limpag
·2 min read

THE latest news coming out of the Philippine Baskeball Association (PBA) reminds us how Asia’s oldest play-for-pay league is basically an old boy network.

The first time I knew that there was more than what is written in the sports pages when one coach, whose star player rejected a max contract to sign with another team, said the fact that the player rejected a maximum contract shows the other team was offering more than the maximum.

And what’s the latest news from the pro league? Strange trades? A player asking for far more than the maximum?

It’s an exclusive club and as exclusive clubs go, strange things happen.

I just hope that stakeholders will realize that all these things prove that the PBA is an outdated model, one that should have been upgraded a generation ago.

The best basketball model in the country was the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA), unfortunately, it became too expensive to run. But still, in terms of popularity and following, nothing rivaled it.

Sure, there is the loyal Ginebra fans but it’s really a different experience when you’re studying in Cebu and you go look for a place where you can watch the Socsargen Marlins play and find other kababayans cheering for the team.

After the MBA folded up, there were a lot of small leagues that tried to copy it to no success. They were doomed to fail because not only did they not have the backing of a media giant, they also didn’t have the backing of corporate sponsors.

And here is where a radical shift could change Philippine pro basketball. Make it community based. What about the corporate sponsors? Well, make them the name sponsors, the pro sponsors.

What about the other leagues? Well, put them all under one umbrella that will manage pro basketball in the country. The top 12 could be the PBA teams — attached to a community, of course — the next level, the MPBL teams and the next the D-League squads and the next, the lesser known semi-pro leagues.

You can have the bottom two of each division getting relegated in exchange for the top two of the lower rung and I think that would be more exciting.

But then, of course, that would involve a radical shift in how basketball should be run, something as radical as rejecting crazy trades that shows an old boy network runs the pro league.