PBA OKAYS NEW SKED FORMAT

MANILA, NOVEMBER 5, 2003 (MALAYA) By NOLI CORTEZ - Expect the PBA to sport a new look next year.

The PBA board of governors yesterday approved a shift in calendar and format of the 29-year-old league to pave the way for a bigger involvement in the formation of national teams for future international tournaments.

"Two out of three is the best we could hope for," said PBA commissioner Noli Eala after most of his proposals were given a unanimous stamp of approval by the governors in the meeting held at the PBA office.

"I am gratified that the board approved some of my proposals, that's why I have expressed my heartfelt gratitude to them," said Eala.

The only Eala proposal junked by the board after a four-hour meeting was a shift to one national championship that veers drastically from the league's three conference-a-year format.

"The rationale behind the board's thinking is that our audience may not be ready for it yet. That is why it was decided that the changes must be done slowly, to provide the fans with the best possible tournaments," explained Eala.

Otherwise, all of the eight board representatives present approved a change in calendar from February to December to one running from October to June.

As a prelude to the changing of the season calendar and format, a transition tournament will be held from February to June before the 2004 season officially starts in October.

Also given the nod were the pruning down of the tournaments to just two per year, an All-Filipino and one import-laced conference, and extending the PBA's commitment to the ABC apart from the Asian Games.

The change in the schedule means the league can now form teams for FIBA tournaments set July to September each year.

"The PBA is throwing its doors wide open as far as our participation in international tournaments is concerned," said board chairman Jun Cabalan.

He added no clear-cut policies have been arrived at as far as the PBA's actual participation in the formation of the RP team is concerned, pending talks with the country's official basketball association.

Meanwhile, IBC-13 would find itself deeper in the red if it continues with its decision not to air PBA games.

The governors, sticking to a memorandum of agreement with the league's television coverors, are currently penalizing IBC-13 P3 million each day that no PBA games are aired over the government-controlled network.

"It is clearly stated in our MOA that such a fine is in order once either or both coverors do not air our games," said Cabalan.

"If they do not re-think their decision and resume broadcasting the games, they would continue to be fined and we would continue demanding a resumption of their coverage."

IBC-13 stopped airing the league's games last Wednesday, citing it must first be paid some P70.8 million in airtime dues owed it by partner NBN-4 and financial arm-marketing agent Summit Sports World.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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