MANILA, May 25, 2004
By Nelson Beltran  -  The PBA board of governors and its commissioner arrived at a consensus they would need to determine strengths and weaknesses of the pro league to know the direction and the course they would take in the future during a meeting in Hong Kong over the weekend.

The top honchos of Asia’s first professional cage league were one in saying they had a productive two-day conference, enabling them to set out their priorities or what the PBA wants at the moment, in the immediate future and even 10 years from now.

"The chairman’s (Buddy Encarnado of Sta. Lucia Realty) program was very well accepted by the board. The credit goes to him as he insisted on doing this. Kulang sa oras but we’re able to clearly plot the direction where we want the PBA to go to," said commissioner Noli Eala.

"The conclusion was that what the league set in 1999 (the league’s last directional meeting) is still good but we need to add a few things that would crystalize what we want," added Eala. "What we want is for the PBA to be a unique entertainment vehicle platformed on a legue responsive to the demands of the times."

Aside from Encarnado and Eala, the others who attended the meeting which cost the group around P300,000 were Red Bull Barako’s Tony Chua, Alaska’s Joaqui Trillo, San Miguel Beer’s Ely Capacio, Coca-Cola’s Hector Guballa, Barangay Ginebra’s Arnaldo Africa, Purefoods’ Rene Pardo, FedEx’s Lito Alvarez, Talk n Text Al Panlilio and Shell’s Bobby Kanapi.

In a meeting held at the Hotel Excelcior in Causeway Bay area, the board set as priority programs the improvement of the conduct of live games, increasing the number of provincial games to bring the PBA closer to the people, holding of overseas games in a bid to perk up the league revenue and expanding media relations to the provinces.

And the board has also studied general measures to solve their woes, including the Fil-Am controversy.

"The Fil-Am issue must be settled before the regular season whatever the decision is," said the commissioner, who later hinted at limiting the number of Fil-foreign cagers playing per team.

The board was not able to discuss its involvement on the Philippine team but stressed it would still render assistance to the national squad.

Left untouched was the league’s possible participation in a basketball super body in the country.

In a bid to bring the league closer to the people, the league’s plan is to increase the provincial games from nine this conference to a minimum of 12 and maximum of 18 in the first regular tourney in the reformatted calendar starting August.

"On weekdays, medyo gugutumin muna ang Maynila because we’ll play out of town," said Eala.

Eala said they’re also dead set on bringing the PBA overseas with their first stops possibly Hong Kong, Guam, Chinese Taipei, Brunei, Dubai and Indonesia.

"May mga prospective sponsors na kami. Kaya before the year ends, baka lumabas na tayo ng bansa," Eala said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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