The latest news (or rumors, if you may) from hoops.blink.ph reports, “And the rich get richer, Arwind Santos to SMB?“:
The current PBA finals is still up and running but it seems to be shadowed by the latest possible PBA trade: Arwind Santos to the San Miguel Beermen.
The same star-studded SMB team with arguably no “banko” type players (Bono was a UAAP MVP, Eman is a former no. 1 overall draft pick, and Chris Calaguio is a grizzled veteran), now gets Arwind Santos, MVP candidate for the past 2 seasons and arguably among the top 3 local players in the PBA.
The PBA should just be renamed as San Miguel Corp. Invitational Tournament. This “league” is just making a mockery of the fans’ interest and affection (not to mention their pockets).
Notice how teams would end up bunched up all together after the elimination rounds; practically every team has a fighting chance to make it to the next round (equal marketing exposure). And notice that even if the SMC teams have superior line ups, they don’t end up altogether in the semis, a maximum of two SMC teams just qualify for the semis at any given tournament. Of course, they all belong to one “association”; that’s why non-SMC teams are allowed to have their share of semis exposure just the same. What happens is that the SMC teams are just rotating on who will advance on to the latter rounds from tournament to tournament.
Why did fan interest dwindle through the years? Two things:
- League predictability of teams being bunched up every after the elimination rounds (league parity? looks like league charade if you ask me); and
- Players (especially the marquee ones) just playing through the motions of a basketball game.
At the end of the day, it’s just a commercial league. As long as every participating team have had their share of market exposure, that’s all that matters. The sarsuela of “quality” games make that possible. It’s not unusual to see your powerhouse team beaten by a ragtag team. And it’s not surprising anymore how a Don Camaso can be traded for a Rico Villanueva. Just like in the NBA, in the PBA / San Miguel Invitational, it’s where “amazing” moro moro happens.
I’m just your ordinary Filipino basketball fan. And yup, I still watch the “crucial” PBA games (sudden death, games 7’s etc.) from time to time although I just tune in on the TV for lack of better stuff to watch rather than watch at the coliseum which I used to do before.
I just can’t help but vent my sentiments because I’m still one of the few (if there are still that remains) “morons” who still nurtures the (impossible?) dream that the RP basketball team can still win in Asian tournaments, with China’s and S. Korea’s A-teams participating. And I’m just saddened at how our “San Miguel League” stunts the growth of our Filipino players by bunching all those potential and established superstars. How can our quality players continue to develop if they just end up competing in a moro moro against obviously inferior teams? And by just going through the motions of competing for their paycheck?
I know we have our equally incompetent basketball governing bodies tasked to take care of international competitions (but that’s another matter altogether). Needless to say, the best talents in the land are in the “San Miguel League”. And it’s a pity to see their potential go to waste because instead of genuinely competing among themselves and bringing out the best in everyone, they just end up subbing for each other and be content with 10-15 minute playing time. I know it’s a professional/commercial league so I guess we can’t do anything about it if SMC wants to get Arwind for Bono, Eman & Calaguio, no matter how ridiculous it may sound.
I just feel insulted by these one-sided deals and maybe there are other Filipino basketball fans who feel the same way. To see the level of competition in the PBA deteriorate is as heartbreaking as seeing Olsen Racela miss those two free-throws at the ‘02 Asiad all over again. The only difference is the former is being done on purpose while the latter was just sheer breaks of the game.
Anyway, I hope there’ll be a game 7 so additional proceeds from gate receipts and ads in the TV coverage would come in; and just an incidental upside of a game 7 would be to expose the players to even greater pressure and see how they respond to clutch situations. At least even for just one game in the finals, we can get to witness real basketball.