With the upcoming 2019 Philippine Cup a few days away, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) held its press conference for the 44th Season Tuesday afternoon at the Forbes Ballroom of Conrad Manila.
The event, attended by PBA officials and the 12 members of the PBA Board of Governors, started with a statement from PBA Chairman and TNT Governor Ricky Vargas. Serving for the second straight year leading the PBA Board, Vargas said that their group is in a much better place compared to how they started last season.
"Last season, we agreed that we will extend our full support to the national team," said Vargas. "It affected our schedule and gate receipts as well but for all the troubles that happened; late start, the scheduling issues, we had, we still earned 160 million pesos, which means that the PBA is still a viable business. What we did was define what divided us: an issue in our constitution and by-laws. We're ready to implement changes."
The PBA Chairman credited Commissioner Willie Marcial for keeping the Board informed of what's happening on the ground and for making their meetings light but hard-hitting.
"We have a well-grounded Commissioner," Vargas said. "He knows exactly what's happening on the ground and he shares that with the Board of Governors. The meetings have been lively."
Vargas said that the the PBA has three goals this season: to get better receipts, to alter certain PBA by-laws, and to look at the program with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and find the best way to support the national team.
The 44th Season of the PBA will also feature key changes in officiating. Goal-tending violations can now be reviewed throughout the game and coaches can call timeouts without the gesture. The biggest rule change is that the PBA will now enforce FIBA's rule on traveling violations.
Though most, if not all, of the Governors have tagged San Miguel Beer as the team to beat for Philippine Cup as they seek their fifth straight reign, all of the 12 are expecting exciting contests after all teams made several roster changes.
"SMC dominated. They have the strongest teams but if you follow the movements of the past month, all of the teams tried to improve," said Attorney Raymond Zorilla, the Governor of the Phoenix Fuel Masters.
"If you look at our team, we could have gotten younger by picking fourth in the 2018 PBA Draft but we decided to get a veteran in Alex Mallari. We missed the playoffs in the Philippine Cup and Commissioner's Cup because we lost a few close games, maybe a veteran like Mallari could make up for the difference next time."
The new season tips off on January 13 at the Philippine Arena with a game between the TNT KaTropa and Barangay Ginebra which will be preceded by the Leo Awards and the opening ceremony.