The PBA Board of Governors, along with PBA officials led by Commissioner Willie Marcial, recently held their annual planning session in Boracay where they mapped out plans for the league's 47th season.
On Wednesday, Marcial was joined by chairman Ricky Vargas of TNT, vice-chairman Bobby Rosales of Terrafirma, and treasurer Raymond Zorilla Phoenix Super LPG in a virtual press conference to report the results of their planning session. Incidentally, Vargas was elected to a fifth term as chairman, Rosales to a fourth, and Zorilla to a second.
Here are the highlights of the press conference:
PBA bounces back in Season 46
The league recovered from the pandemic-hit 45th season by posting a positive net income for Season 46, which featured two conferences.
"For the pandemic, we lost about P100 million," Vargas reported. "But for this 46th season, we had two conferences, and we netted about P48.8 million. Not bad. It's very positive news for us. Our cash flow also improved."
The PBA gradually welcomed back fans beginning in December 2021, culminating in a crowd of over 20,000 at the Mall of Asia Arena for Game 6 of the PBA Governors' Cup Finals between Barangay Ginebra and Meralco. Those finals were also a ratings hit for the league's TV partners, according to Vargas, with Game 6 drawing over 12 million viewers.
Season 47 schedule
The league is planning to hold three conferences in one season for the first time since Season 44. According to Marcial, this is the working schedule:
June 5 to Sep. 2, 2022 -- Philippine Cup
Oct. 2, 2022 to Jan. 25, 2023 -- Commissioner's Cup
Feb. 1 to May 10, 2023 -- Governors' Cup
Marcial added that the All-Star Weekend, out of-town games, and an out-of-the country game are all slated for the Governors' Cup.
"We're going back to three conferences for Season 47," Vargas added. "In terms of expenses, to get to deliver three conferences, we're looking at close to P300 million to deliver that. But we're also looking at revenue of about P500 million.
The league is hoping to rake in net income of P200 million for Season 47, according to Vargas. "We gain what we lost in Season 45."
The PBA and Gilas
The schedules of the three conferences took into account the league's commitment to supporting the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) for the formation of the Gilas Pilipinas national pool. The coming months are loaded with several international tournaments where the SBP is planning to tap PBA players.
"The PBA Board has committed to continue its support to the national team by providing them with players coming from the PBA," Rosales said. "Because of this, it will surely impact the calendar of the PBA. We are planning already to have three conferences for the 47th season.
"The (2023 FIBA World Cup) qualifiers will definitely impact the first conference. And then moving forward, the Asian Games (in September) where we have committed support. So it is going to be a very tight calendar, but I think the PBA has found a way to really squeeze everything."
Expansion and new office
Vargas said the Board also discussed increasing the number of teams to 14.
"We also talked about how to expand the revenue base of the PBA. The Board, when Willie reported to us that there is some interest of new teams, new owners coming in to join the PBA, and at least one of them has strong interest in joining, we said 'why don't we look at expanding to 14.'"
Meanwhile, the league is looking for a place to that they can call their own. Currently the PBA rents office space in Libis, Quezon City.
"We've been planning this for a long time," Vargas said. "It is our dream to have our own place. When we reviewed the numbers, we pay a lot of money for rental for where we are now, our office, and we will never get to own it. A lease-to-own PBA office."
The PBA and other leagues
This year, the PBA has committed to joining the East Asia Super League, with an EASL team joining one conference as a guest team and two PBA clubs participating in a home-and-away format with other clubs from the Japan, Chinese Taipei and Korea leagues.
"We want to be very, very competitive because this is a regional tournament," Vargas said. "We have appointed Governor Alfrancis Chua to represent the PBA in the EASL board.
Marcial added that officials from the Korean Basketball League and the Japan B.League have reached out to him about possible meetings with the Board.
3x3 and D-League
The league launched its first 3x3 tournament last year, holding six legs and one Grand Finals. Next season, scheduled for June, will be bigger.
"Chairman Dickie (Bachmann) has big plans for it," Rosales said. "As a matter of fact, there have been many requests to join the 3x3 tournament of the PBA. The plan for 3x3 is to go regional. One tournament for Luzon, one for Visayas, one for Mindanao running simultaneously and then eventually culminating in a national championship. This is the first step for the PBA to go regional. Hopefully we can do something similar to expand the 5x5."
As for the PBA D-League, Zorilla said it will return after a three-year absence in the second week of June.
The Uniform Players Contract is up for review, according to Zorilla.
"The board decided to revisit the Uniform Players Contract. The UPC has been in existence for more than two decades already and it's high time to revisit it given the developments and changes in the basketball world. We will also suggest that the PBA will be part of the UPC. Previously, the UPC is between the team and the player. We're going to make it a tripartite agreement with the PBA as a party to the contract."
Several players whose contracts expired in January switched teams in the middle of the Governors' Cup, something which the Board wants to avoid going forward.
"Definitely we will be looking at provisions on expiration of players' contracts while the season is ongoing," Zorilla added. "Maybe if a team is in contention and a player's contract expires, the team will be given an option to renew while the team is in contention."
Other changes to the UPC are also under review.
"We're looking at provisions on injury to players sustained while under contract," Zorilla said. "We will also look into provisions of using images of players even after their retirement subject to agreement with the players also. The main thrust of revisiting the UPC is to make it a contract of sanctity that would not be violated, that is fair not only to the PBA, the team, but to the players as well. We will sit down with the management committee to discuss urgent amendments to the UPC and we will submit this to the board for approval."