By Tito S. Talao
MILAN — The Philippine Basketball Association isn’t going anywhere for the next three seasons without Commissioner Willie Marcial.
In a move unprecedented, the PBA board of governors late Thursday extended Marcial’s tenure as commissioner for another three years though he still has one more year left in his current contract.
Marcial, the league’s technical and media bureau chief before he was asked to temporarily take over the helm after Commissioner Chito Narvasa stepped down in late 2017, was named permanent commissioner the following year and signed a deal that would run until 2020.
His fresh mandate will see him sitting as the league’s 10th commissioner until 2023 when pros will again be tapped to fill up the Gilas Pilipinas roster for the 19th FIBA Basketball World Cup which the country, through the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, is hosting.
If completed, Marcial’s six-year term will put him right behind founding commissioner Leo Prieto and Emilio ‘Jun’ Bernardino as the PBA’s longest serving chief, both having held the top post for eight years.
“Baka bigla pang mag-paalam e, kaya in-extend na namin” said San Miguel Beer governor Robert Non when sought why the board decided on an early reappointment for Marcial.
“Also, he really gets the job done. Madali pang kausap kasi very relaxed ang style nya, parang barkada lang kayo,” Non added.
Marcial said he was humbled by the trust given him by the PBA board.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa kanilang pagtitiwala; di ko inasahan na darating ako dito,” he said. “Pagsusumikapan kong suklian, kami sa Commissioner’s Office, ang pagtitiwala ng governors.”
PBA chairman Ricky Vargas of TNT KaTropa said the reappointment was made in the spirit of “openness” and “transparency.”
Meantime, Vargas bared the league’s 2020 calendar, with the curtain rising for the PBA D-League Draft on Jan. 20 followed by drafting and acceptance of 3×3 applicants in February, with the 3-3 tournament proper set in March.
The Philippine Cup runs from March 1 to June 17 and will be succeeded by the Commissioner’s Cup, featured 6-foot-10 imports, on July 24 to Oct. 4. The season-ending Governors’ Cup, with 6-foot-5 reinforcements, is from Oct. 11 to Jan. 2021.
The D-League covers February to June, while Batang PBA is from April to June. The All-Star Weekend in Passi, Iloilo is set July 10 to 12 and the D-League Foundation Cup is from July to October.
No Christmas Day game is scheduled this year.
Provincial games have been calendared on March 14 between Blackwater and Barangay Ginebra in Balanga, Bataan, March 21 between TNT and Magnolia in Cagayan de Oro, March 28 between SMB and Meralco in Panabo in Davao del Norte, April 25 between SMB and Columbian Dyipo in Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte and a yet-to-be-announced game on May 2.