SMB and Air21 Official Statements + My Half Heartedly Formed Opinion

Today I will pretend to care about the PBA a little bit: SMB and Air21 recently exchanged key players, which is fine and didn’t really impress upon me at all until I read that in order for a trade to go through in the PBA, it’d have to pass the OK of the commissioner, at which point suddenly I am piqued.

But first, the official statements, starting with SMB Coach Ato Agustin, reading like it was written by Ato Agustin:

This is the right time to rebuild the San Miguel Beer Team. So with this in mind, the trade with Air 21 Express will be the important first step for us to ensure the continuing success of the San Miguel Beer franchise. Although this trade will not be a quick fix for the team, we believe that Rabeh Al Hussaini, Nonoy Baclao and RJ Guevarra will slowly but surely be molded into the San Miguel system. It will be very hard and with a heavy heart for us to part ways with Danny Seigle, Dorian Pena, Dondon Hontiveros and Paul Artadi, who have contributed immensely to our previous championships. But this sacrifice will not only benefit San Miguel and Air 21 but also their respective careers.

And now, a statement from Air21’s Alberto D Lina, Air21’s owner, which is also probably genuinely made by his hand. An observation I come onto by virtue of it being excessively wordy and unnecessarily detailed, elements of a letter made by a non – writer. (You gotta hand it to the PBA teams. When they make statements it looks like they put a premium on authenticity).

IN A RECENT TRADE MUTUALLY AGREED UPON BY OUR AIR21 EXPRESS TEAM AND TEAM AND THE SAN MIGUEL BEERMEN, WE ARE PUTTING PREMIUM ON CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERIENCE THAT DANNY SEIGLE, DORIAN PENA, DONDON HONTIVEROS AND PAUL ARTADI CAN GIVE US.

WE THINK THAT HAVING THESE GENTLEMEN IN OUR TEAM, ALTHOUGH AT THE EXPENSE OF RABEH AL HUSSAINI, NONOY BACLAO AND RJ, IS THE RIGHT DIRECTION AS WE WOULD WANT TO BLEND EXPERIENCE WITH YOUTH AND THIS WILL HOPEFULLY PROVIDE US WITH IMMEDIATE RESULTS.

SEIGLE WILL GIVE THE TEAM AMPLE SCORING OPTIONS AT THE POST, PENA WILL FILL OUR VOID FOR A LEGITIMATE REBOUNDING AND DEFENSIVE CENTER, HONTIVEROS IS STILL ONE OF THE TOP MARKSMEN IN THE LEAGUE TODAY WHILE ARTADI WILL PROVIDE HUSTLE AND STEADY BALLHANDLING AT THE POINTGUARD POSITION. THEIR PRESENCE WILL ALSO BOOST AIR21’S STOCK IN TERMS OF FANS AS THEY HAVE EACH GAINED A HUGE FOLLOWING DURING THEIR STAY WITH THE BEERMEN.

IN ANY TRADE, THERE IS ALWAYS A RISK BUT WE SEE THAT THIS WILL BE BENEFICIAL TO BOTH PARTIES IN THE LONG RUN. WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO GAINING THE SERVICES OF YOUNG PLAYERS FROM THE COMING ROOKIE DRAFT BY VIRTUE OF THE TWO FIRST ROUND PICKS WE GOT FROM MERALCO AND TALK N’ TEXT IN PREVIOUS TRADES. WE DO NOT EXPECT FOR THINGS TO TURN AROUND OVERNIGHT, BUT WE ARE SURE THAT THESE ACQUISITIONS WILL PUT THE TEAM FORWARD.

Ok now we’ve heard from the teams. Now here comes the part that surprises me, and it comes from the PBA commissioner himself, which I’m quoting from a PDI article:

“As it stands, Seigle, Pennisi, and Yeo for Al Hussaini, Baclao and Guevarra—I didn’t find it even and fair,” Commissioner Salud told Inquirer.net. “I just disapproved it.”

And now finally, my reaction:

Kailangan pa ng approval ng Commissioner ang bawa’t trade sa PBA?!?

Before I explain I’ll follow that up with other questions that necessarily follow that one:

  1. I wonder how Air21 feels about their deal with SMB needing to be approved by the commissioner?
  2. I wonder how SMB feels about their deal with Air21 needing to be approved by the commissioner?
  3. I wonder how every PBA team feels about their trades needin to be approved by the commissioner?

Now to explain. Let’s say I own a PBA team. That would make me an adult, successful businessman with a firm concept of fairness and a good idea of what is good and bad for me – the elements of a good deal maker. If I did not have these qualities, it’s fair to say that it would be unlikely that I could come to the position of owning a team.

And we’re talking BIG businesses here. Air21, San Miguel, Meralco, Red Bull, Purefoods, Talk N’ Text, etc., these are ginormous operations worth several hundred millions of pesos. Running these businesses means mega smarts and ability. The owners of these are champions of industry, and when they make decisions they do it with great care and attention.

So, with all due respect to the Commission whom I am sure is an intelligent and well – meaning gentleman, it does not seem to be his place to question the ability of team owners to make a trade, especially in light of the fact that concerned parties had already agreed with one another.

As a matter of fact, doing so is contrary to the concept of trust and confidence one expects to receive from team owners and members of the PBA board. To go back to my example, if I were the owner of a PBA team and my decision to make a trade, to whom the other party had already agreed to, was questioned and denied by the Commissioner, then I would feel slighted, possibly embarrassed, and very annoyed.

If instead the other team owners’ opinions were instead compiled, then I would imagine this would be a more reliable qualifier of whether a trade is fair or not. Even if each team’s Coaches, instead of owners were asked, this would still make more sense. But for one man, and one man only, to thumb a deal up or down?

Whether he’s the commissioner, the President, or The God of Basketball’s Appointed Holy Representative Himself, that just does not make sense. Not only does it smack of distrust for a person to take it upon himself to decide on these things, it makes it appear as if he and only he was the only one blessed with basketball smarts to weigh a deal worthy or not.

And that is never true. If team sports teaches you anything, you will learn that no one at any given time should or could answer for the collective. For the most part it is best for the organization to decide on matters that concern the organization, such as a trade. All these after all, are for the betterment of the league. As a matter of fact, the commissioner’s deciding on the situation made me wonder if he himself is guarding against whether some teams are in it to fail (or maybe that’s the case?).

At any rate I cannot imagine how belittling it is to be a team owner in a league run by a Commissioner who can question how you run your own team. Times like these I wish I could just enjoy the league like your typical brainless, cheering Ginebra fan (and for the most part, since those seem to be whom the league is catering to, it works for them). But I’m not that kind of fan. I’m the type that cares for a team beyond who the players date and how they look. I want to see a team prosper, and among other things I want it to make good trades that will benefit them in the end.

If SMB and Air21 make a trade, as a fan I would be interested to see how either one fares for one another. The results could be immediate, or it could be later on. The point is they’ve shaken their foundation in a manner they find best fit for them, and will soon either reap rewards or suffer consequences.

A meddling commissioner changes all that. Now, neither team can say they really got what they wanted, and hence, neither’s diskarte is in effect. The team is now how the Commissioner wants it to be, not the teams. And that’s not right. The collective should decide for itself. That includes the Commissioner, and the teams, players and fans. Entrusting it all on one man’s opinion isn’t how we’ve all learned how the sport should be played.

8 thoughts on “SMB and Air21 Official Statements + My Half Heartedly Formed Opinion”

  1. Like you, I will pretend to still care for Asia’s first pro league.

    It is saddening that things had to go this low – that trade transactions have to go through the Commissioner’s office for approval. Ideally these grown up and successful businessmen / team owners know what they are doing with their teams.

    Unfortunately, the series of lopsided trades involving the usual suspects has significantly insulted the fans’ sensibilities through the years so not a few have already realized that they are just being taken for a ride by these “knowledgeable” team owners.

    What is appalling is that these team owners doesn’t seem to realize that the league’s lifeblood is the fans. Continue treating them as gullible fools with these one sided trades will continue to frustrate and eventually make them realize that they are just being hoodwinked.

    Thus, I think is the reason why the Commissioner has to step in, otherwise, there will be more and more people like me (and you?) who will lose interest altogether and will just pretend to care about the PBA even for just a bit.

    More of my past sentiments here: http://bit.ly/eDsi4i

  2. There are still some teams (say Alaska) that make intelligent trades (LA Tenorio, Cyrus Baguio) but there are the usual suspects (SMC Teams, TnT and their conduits Air21, Barako, etc.) that have and continues to engage in trade transactions that simply defy logic.

    In light of these lopsided deals, there was even a proposal that each team are to name their top 5 players and trades involving these players can only be consummated involving top 5 players of other teams. But somehow this didn’t take off.

    It’s really sad what these other league members are doing to strengthen their teams but weaken league parity and insult fan’s sensibilities.

    In reality there only 3 competitive teams left in the PBA – SMC Group, Pangilinan Group and Alaska.

    1. thanks Mon. Hindi kaya posible that some of these teams are actually positioning themselves for draft picks or something in the future kaya naman nagmumukhang pangit yung trade nila pero actually may long term silang goal?

  3. That could be one justification, Sir. But the thing is, Rabeh, Nonoy and RJ were already lottery picks, and are already promising pieces to build on for the long term.

    It’s like they are already in the position to reap the benefits of being on the bitter end of past lopsided trades, but decided instead to go back to square one.

    Nothing against Seigle, Dondon, Dorian but these guys have already played past their prime, they have seen better days and are not really factors in the long term.

    Why would a team owner, bent on finally making his team one of the league’s elite after all these years, agree to such a deal is just unfathomable.

    And just like the rest of the fans paying for tickets with hard earned money to cheer on their favorite teams and players, one can’t help but think that: “Niloloko na lang yata tayo.”

  4. You’re very much welcome, Sir. Glad to know my thoughts are appreciated.

    With the way things are right now, the Commissioner’s approval is more of a necessity. Imagine had it not in place, SMB would have landed Rabeh, Nonoy, RJ for “just” Yeo, Seigle, Pennisi and a draft pick. As if it makes much of a difference revising the trade terms to include Dorian and Dondon instead but still, you can see, if things are left to the teams’ discretion, they will rob us of our any remaining sanity – in broad daylight!

    Of course I would love to see the day that the Commish doesn’t have to have the final approval on trades – not because the Commissioner’s Office has since been abolished, but because teams are going about their wheeling and dealing maturely.

    That’s the least they owe to their remaining fans.

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