The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) study group, which was tasked to revisit existing league rules and modify them if needed to keep up with the times, is also looking into what needs to be done when players with live contracts want to play overseas.
“We were already tackling such matters in the study group even before the [Kiefer Ravena situation] cropped up,” commissioner Willie Marcial told the Inquirer on Thursday. “So the group is just finalizing its report before it sits down with the league’s board.”
The study group, formed in March, consists of Marcial, legal counsel Melvin Mendoza, vice chair Bobby Rosales and a few unnamed industry leaders.
“Very soon, we’ll know more as to how the league addresses the (Ravena) situation,” he said. “And it will definitely come in the coming days. We’re just resolving the nitty-gritty.”
“Whatever the findings of the group will be subject to the approval of the Board,” he said. “The final say will come from the Board.”
Marcial, for his part, said his position as the commissioner remains unchanged: “I’m still going with my earlier take. We will not allow it.”
Wednesday’s news of Ravena signing with the B.League club Shiga Lakestars shook the league and the sport’s fandom as he is still currently under NLEX Road Warriors by way of a contract he renewed in September 2020. Ravena’s pact with the Road Warriors is until 2023.
The NLEX guard is the second contractual issue to hound the league in the last three months, following Ray Parks Jr.’s sudden decision to take a sabbatical, which left Philippine Cup finalist TNT hanging. Both Ravena and Parks are national team-caliber talents, whose moves, the league feels, could set a precedent that might cause problems in the future.
Meanwhile, Marcial bared that the league has been staging hitch-free training sessions, keeping the league on pace for a late-June or an early-July start.
“It’s been a pleasant stretch so far,” he said of the team’s return to full-on scrimmages, which began May 20. “We’re on week three and we’re taking pride in the fact that we can now tell the [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] that our players are truly careful and disciplined.”
The league has set its sights on two possible venues for its 46th season: Ynares Center in Antipolo City or Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, both of which were selected due to its logistical advantages.
“It’s also because we still can’t accommodate fans,” said Marcial. “All we need now is a place with decent amenities.”
“We know just how essential the fans are,” he went on. “We saw the impact [of their absence] on players during the bubble games. But the way things are, we have to take things slowly and carefully. We’ll have to endure.”
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