Willie Marcial given new three-year contract as PBA commissioner

The PBA board of governors showed their vote of confidence by giving Willie Marcial a fresh three-year mandate as commissioner of Asia's oldest professional basketball league.

Marcial's fresh three-year extension as the PBA's top honcho was made official during the PBA board's annual planning session in Milan, Italy.

The amiable Marcial has served in different capacities, including the media bureau chief of the pro league. He came in as officer-in-charge of the PBA when the league got rocked by a series of controversies under then commissioner Chito Narvasa in November 2017.

Marcial eventually was named league commissioner on January 25, 2018 and will be entering his third year as the PBA's top chieftain when the pro loop kicks off its 2020 season on March 1.

"Com Willie was extended for another three years unanimously by the Board," said PBA chairman Ricky Vargas in a statement. "Willie is grounded, hard-working, inclusive and has a collegial conflict resolution and decision-making process."

Vargas added that Marcial lends a listening ear, one characteristic that reveals his "heart for the PBA."

"He listens and showed that he has the league at heart. He has the feel of the fans, respect of the players and humility of a leader," stressed Vargas, who also serves as the TNT board of governor.

Marcial was once described by Vargas as the "Healing Commissioner", for restoring the harmony within the league's board following the turmoil in 2017.

The late Leo Prieto and Jun Bernardino own the distinction of serving eight years each as commissioner of the PBA, which opened shop in April 1975.

Other past league commissioners include Mariano Yenko (1984-87), Rudy Salud (1988-92), Rey Marquez (1992-93), Noli Eala (2003-2007), Sonny Barrios (2008-2010), Chito Salud (2010-2015) and Chito Narvasa (2015-17).

Meanwhile, five-time PBA Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer kicks off its bid for a sixth straight conference title right on opening day of the league's 45th season on March 1 when the Beermen take on the Magnolia Hotshots at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Both teams have figured in the last two All-Filipino conference Finals with the Beermen emerging as champions both times.