Number one talaga gusto kong mapalapit pa tayo lalo sa mga fans -- PBA commissioner Marcial
Mabalik yung mga fans sa atin, maayos yung officiating, and siyempre, yung sa board -- Willie Marcial on his top priorities as PBA commissioner
Fans, officiating, and a united PBA board are the top priorities of Willie Marcial in his first year at the helm of Asia’s first ever pro league.
“Mabalik yung mga fans sa atin, maayos yung officiating, and siyempre, yung sa board,” Marcial enumerated when he appeared once more as special guest in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Wednesday at the Tapa King Restaurant at Farmer’s Market in Cubao.
Acknowledging that fans are the lifeblood of the PBA, Marcial said it’s imperative to sustain their support both in the playing venues and on television.
It helps too, that the league is coming off a season in which a new record crowd of 54,086 was established during Game 7 of the Governors Cup Finals between Barangay Ginebra and Meralco at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
“Number one talaga gusto kong mapalapit pa tayo lalo sa mga fans. Malaking bagay yun,” he stressed in the public sports program presented by San Miguel Corp., Tapa King, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
Marcial disclosed he already talked to some players about trying to accommodate fans as much as possible, citing PBA greats Alvin Patrimonio and former Senator Robert Jaworski as prime examples of those who had truly endeared themselves to the public.
“Ang mga players doon naman (fans) nabubuhay. Paano ba sumikat sila Alvin at Senator Jaworski? Yun sana makita ng mga players natin ngayon yun,” he said.
He said that’s one of the reasons behind the introduction of the ‘PBA Homecourt,’ where players – including those from the past – join Marcial and his staff in visiting different barangay courts within Metro Manila unannounced. The project also forms part of the league’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program.
They say there’s no perfect officiating, but that doesn’t mean the league won’t do everything to improve how officials call the games, he added.
On Sunday, Marcial already implemented a way for fans to further understand PBA rules by letting technical director Eric Castro speak during the post-game interview and explain the technicalities involved during the endgame confusion that marred the San Miguel-Barangay Ginebra Philippine Cup encounter.
“Basta may controversial call na technicality at hindi judgment call, papupuntahin ko si Eric to explain everything,” said the 56-year-old Marcial, who began his career in the league as statistician and panel scorer back in the 80s.
“At least magkakaroon na ng idea ang lahat, including the fans, kung ano talaga ang rules ng liga. Hindi yung puro haka-haka lang,” he added. “But lahat naman yun (calls) ire-review namin kinabukasan.”
Marcial, the long-time head of the league's External Affairs and Communications department and former assistant to the commissioner, disclosed he’s set to meet with all 12 coaches within the week to discuss and get their inputs about officiating.
And then, there’s the league board.
Referred to as the ‘healing commissioner,’ Marcial said among the reason he accepted the job after initially being appointed as officer in charge (OIC) was for him to serve as bridge to bring the board together again following a chaotic offseason that caused divisions within the league hierarchy.
It was upon the advice of a board of governor that a reluctant Marcial was convinced to accept the position vacated by Chito Narvasa.
“Ikaw ang puwedeng magsama-sama ulit sa board,” said Marcial, recalling the words given to him by the league executive whom he refused to identify.
“Doon pumasok sa isipan ko, doon ako nag-decide na kung ia-alok ulit sa akin, kukunin ko yun,” said the commissioner from Batangas.