The highly-anticipated basketball exhibition game between members of Gilas Pilipinas and an NBA all-star team was unceremoniously scrapped at the last minute.
National head coach Chot Reyes made the announcement in front of the thousands of fans who trooped to the Smart Araneta Coliseum Tuesday night for the event dubbed as “Last Home Stand.”
Reyes made the announcement together with PLDT executive vice president and head of HOME business Ariel Fermin.
Richard Dy of Spin.PH reported that the exhibition game had to be canceled since NBA officials disapproved it, noting that the event is not sanctioned by their league.
In a news conference after Reyes’ impromptu announcement, PLDT officials explained that the NBA players who came over would face fines and other sanctions due a regulation on their respective contracts that forbids them from playing in non-sanctioned NBA events.
The NBA All-Star selection includes James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Brandon Jennings, Kyle Lowry, Damian Lillard, Terrence Ross, Kawhi Leonard, Tyson Chandler, Ed Davis, and Nick Johnson. These players are now here in Manila.
GMANews.TV pointed out that those who sought to watch the supposed game live had to shell out as much as P20,000. Understandably, these basketball fans vented their frustration online.
Event organizers are offering disappointed spectators a chance for a refund if they are not satisfied with the show. However, details regarding this are still being finalized.
This disappointing development is certainly a big embarrassment and a rare defeat for PLDT big boss Manny V. Pangilinan.
He was instrumental in organizing two of the biggest basketball events in the country in recent years: the 2011 exhibition game between Smart Gilas and an NBA All-Star team led by Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant (who witnessed Japeth Aguilar score a slam dunk over him), and Chris Paul.
Of course, Pangilinan also bankrolled the Philippines’ hosting of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships, where Gilas Pilipinas secured a slot in the 2014 World Championships by finishing second to Iran.
Just last week, Pangilinan said his group will try to work on making the Philippines the host of the 2019 FIBA World Championships.
So, what could have been the problem in this case?
First of all, it must be understood that as early as 2012, the NBA has considered implementing tighter rules as regards the players’ activities during the offseason, which runs anytime between April or June (depending on how far a team goes during the playoffs) until late October.
Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated wrote that NBA officials had been bothered about the injuries that players suffer by engaging in dangerous activities or playing in certain summer leagues.
Now, we ask this question: could it be possible that no one from the MVP Group knew about this?