MANILA, May 21, 2004
By Nelson Beltran  -  Barring last-minute hitches, the PBA board of governors’ long-planned directional meeting will finally push through in Hong Kong starting this afternoon up to Sunday with the league top honchos charting the league’s course of actions at least in the next three years.

Board chairman Buddy Encarnado of Sta. Lucia Realty and commissioner Noli Eala will lead the bulk of the group flying to the former British Crown Colony this morning. Talk n Text’s Al Panlilio has gone ahead while Red Bull Barako’s Tony Chua was scheduled to leave Manila yesterday. San Miguel Beer’s Ely Capacio is coming in from Mainland China.

The board also invited a renowned facilitator in Ping Sotto to come over. Sotto is expert in conducting team-building sessions.

The meeting had been scheduled at least twice early in the year in Subic but postponed due to conflict of schedules of the board members. To avoid further distractions, the board decided to hold the meeting abroad.

"This is all about goal-setting. The last time the board had this kind of meeting was about four or five years ago. Between then and now, a lot has changed. The basketball landscape, for one, has completely changed," said Encarnado.

"I think it’s imperative for the board to make the necessary adjustments. I also want each and every member of the board to have the same frequency. Otherwise, the board will be paddling in different directions," Encarnado added.

In the same meeting, Encarnado hoped they would be able to discuss all the problems besetting the league at the moment.

Encarnado said among the league’s major concerns are the Fil-Am issue, its stand on the national team and its participation in the proposed creation of an Australasian super league.

The league chairman hoped the results of their recent survey among Filipino basketball fans serve them in good stead in putting up measures to solve their woes.

Citing the survey conducted by AC Nielsen, Encarnado said PBA audience still prefers old cage heroes like Alvin Patrimonio and even Robert Jaworski and Samboy Lim over the curious mix of Fil-Ams playing in the league today.

"Imagine mas gusto pa ng audience natin yun retired players. Parang walang identification yung mga Fil-Ams, hindi maka-relate ang audience natin," said Encarnado.

Also according to the survey, the PBA All-Filipino conference is no longer as attractive to the fans as before.

"Tingin ng mga tao wala na rin itong kaibahan sa import-flavored tournament dahil nga sa Fil-Ams," said Encarnado.

Because of the survey, Encarnado said he’s welcoming suggestion for the PBA to participate in the regional super league hatched by the league commissioner with his counterparts in the Korean Basketball League and the National Basketball League of Australia.

"Baka ito ang sagot sa hinahanap ng mga taong new excitement," said Encarnado, stressing the board’s main thrust is to bring the highest form of sports entertainment here.

Meanwhile, Eala had a dialogue with leaders of homegrown players in the PBA office yesterday, assuring the cagers the Fil-Am issue is still in the agenda of the Commissioner’s Office.

This developed following recent moves by the locals to pursue the "Fil-Sham" case in the Department of Justice, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Immigration.

"I just assured the players I intend to make a final decision on how to improve policies on hiring Fil-foreign players and I asked their patience and cooperation," said Eala. "The players seemed to appreciate naman yung pakikipagusap ko sa kanila."

Among the players met by Eala were Alvin Patrimonio, Marlou Aquino, Jerry Codiñera, Olsen Racela and Chris Calaguio.

In another development, Eala said Lebanon is fulfilling its commitment to play in the Grand Matador PBA Fiesta Conference after all.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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