MALACANANG, OCTOBER 22, 2003 (STAR) While it looks good on the drawing board, the new PBA format being proposed by commissioner Noli Eala starting next year may not get the full backing of the board of governors.

League chairman Jun Cabalan, for one, has already signified his difference with the idea that calls for an October opening and a three-month break from July to September. It also calls for a single National Championship to be preceded by division battles much like in the NBA.

"Medyo fifty-fifty ako diyan," Cabalan told some scribes yesterday afternoon, adding that while the proposal will give the league some advantages, it definitely has its share of disadvantages.

Cabalan, of Ginebra, did not elaborate, but added that the board may be divided on the issue, despite the assurance of the commissioner that the proposal will not "diminish the value of a franchise."

Cabalan, of course, is not speaking on behalf of the board and is merely airing his opinion, which may change in time.

The proposal, which is contained in a 14-page briefing paper, also calls for the holding of an Invitational tournament in July where foreign teams, mostly from Asia, will be invited to join.

The switching to a fiscal year, Eala explained, will also give the PBA ample space to help the country’s cause in international competitions like World Championships, Olympics or the Asian Games.

Eala was to submit the proposal to the board last week just in time for the board meeting on the first week of November.

Meanwhile, after the quarterfinal cast in Group B was sealed last Sunday, the battle for the three other slots left in Group A heats up today in the resumption of the Reinforced Conference at the Philsports Arena.

Purefoods and FedEx, two teams on the verge of elimination in Group A, square off at 5 p.m. while Talk N Text and Coca-Cola, two teams assured of slots in the next round in Group B, collide at 7:30 p.m.

Aside from Talk N Text and Coca-Cola, also assured of quarterfinal slots in their group are Red Bull and Ginebra. Shell was the one booted out with a 3-8 slate.

Sta. Lucia is the only team assured of a quarterfinal slot in Group A with its 6-4 record. Fighting it out for the three other slots are Alaska, San Miguel, FedEx and Purefoods.

A victory by the Hotdogs will send them into a tie with the Express at 3-8 and will further heat up the race. Corderore comfortable. — Abac Cordero

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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