An expensive fiasco

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014


MANILA -- Manny V. Pangilinan is a known business tycoon and a passionate basketball fan.

Reliable sources said that Pangilinan, who was celebrating his 68th birthday last week, spent at least $4.6 million or roughly around P200 million to bring in the NBA stars for the charity event dubbed the Last Home Stand All-Star Charity Event.

That is P200 million for an event that did not push through.

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The supposed tune-up game between the Gilas-Pilipinas national team against Team Fibr NBA All Stars at the Araneta Coliseum was suddenly cancelled the other day to the disappointment of thousands from all over the country who bought tickets for the event.

The ticket holders paid as much as P23,000 to P25,000 for reserved seats to watch James Harden, Kyle Lowry, Damian Lillard, Tyson Chandler, Brandon Jennings, Kawhi Leonard, the 2014 NBA Finals MVP, Ed Davis and Terrence Ross in action against the Filipino squad. These NBA players were reported to have received at least $150,000 each for the two-day event.

It was supposed to be part of the Gilas Pilipinas team’s preparation for the 2014 World Cup in Spain and 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.

Disagreement between the NBA and the organizer East-West Private LLC caused the event to become a practice session instead of a real match.

No less than Pangilinan, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PDLT) top honcho, assured everyone of the refunds of the event, which was limited to practice drills.

“We wish to apologize to our Filipino basketball fans for the sudden and disappointing turn of events. We ourselves are extremely disappointed by this unexpected development. All we wanted was to give our Filipino basketball fans a real treat, while at the same time, through this benefit event, help our countrymen who are still recovering from super typhoon Yolanda and more recently typhoon Glenda," said Pangilinan, whose PLDT Fibr is the title sponsor of the event.

“From my own lips, mag-a-apologize na ko and I will offer refunds. Every Tom, Dick and Harry would really expect this event to have a game pitting NBA stars against our very own Gilas players. I will be man enough to take the accountability and offer the remedial option,” said Pangilinan, who is also the president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

The NBA issued a statement explaining its side and blamed organizers of the event, saying they have informed several months ago the East-West Private LLC, a private organization which helped stage the Manila visit of the NBA stars, about the terms of the NBA collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the players.

“Under the terms of the NBA’s CBA, players are allowed to participate in off-season basketball games or exhibitions when requirements for those events are met, including ensuring that appropriate safeguards be in place, and the promoter seeks the proper exemptions from the NBA and the player’s team. The promoter of this proposed event, East-West Private LLC, was informed of this process several months ago but did not take the required steps,” said the NBA statement released to the media offices in Manila.

Maria Espaldon, CEO of East West, admitted that the NBA denied its request for a sanction in April but insisted that they conformed with the league's requirements.

“We did a lot of due diligence on the events that we run, they actually told us that we can bring the players for clinics but not a full-on game. So we asked, what do you mean by a full-on game, and they gave us a list of their requirements and all of it we were able to meet,” Espaldon stressed.

The NBA statement likewise cautioned against comparing the July 23 event to that of 2011 led by Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose, citing the lockout between the Players Association with the team owners at that time.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 24, 2014.

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