Don't-Ask, Don't-Tell PBA

On: 08 March 2010

PBA Cuneta Astrodome

Beyond the ordinary warnings that goes along with trade calls and with league memos, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) appears powerless in admonishing sister teams from controlling the trade through prearranged deals. Even if it was quiet obvious that something was being cooked to ensure that a sister team will get the player they direly need (i.e. Enrico Villanueva, Marc Pingris, among others), the message is clear: push through with the deal, but don't let us catch any hint of a spurious arrangement.

PBA officials ought to confess to an irrefutable truth existing in the league for some time now: Unless teams are completely careless and foolish, the league is powerless, if not unmotivated, to police itself against powerful companies.

If PBA officials really want to catch teams, many fans believed that they can. However, truth be told, it appears that they don't. Since sister teams were allowed to trade with each other using a conduit, the league became a bowl full of one-sided deals. Do you think teams that employ potential franchise players will allow other teams to get their hands on him aside from their sorority members? You're kidding yourself. The phone calls come and go every day, but most of these calls are made to ask what sister teams really need to advance in the next stage.

There was a rumor a few years ago that a team manager called an agent every week, trying to convince that person to push his unhappy star to strike a deal with a sister team even if that same team will likely put the player in the injured list. Discussions started to fly around that the main reason for the force trade was to deny a powerhouse team a reliable sixth man because they were not part of the 'Company.'

Discussions between executives and agents about the draft choices in 2011 and 2012 are also well under way right now. Even it the discussion can be labeled as tampering, and its called about as often as the carry, nothing is being done to prevent or just minimize the talks. No investigation will likely be called either.

No one gets caught and no one gets punished. The PBA is the country's ultimate "don't-ask-don't-tell" league. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of improper discussions and, ultimately, deals that take place between sister teams. No one gets busted because the league is mostly interested that everyone just stays discreet.

Teams like the Sta. Lucia Realtors, Coca-Cola Tigers, Red Bull Barakos and Rain or Shine Elastopainters will continue to get the raw end of all these deals. But if their cause is not protected by the league, it will still be a business as usual in the Don't-Ask, Don't-Tell PBA.

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