Note: The following articles are from independent external sources and does not necessarily reflect the official stand of Liga Pilipinas, Pinoy Basketbol Incorporated (PBI) and Pinoy Basketbol Management Incorporated (PBMI).
All systems go for PBL-Liga merger - Eala
By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) Updated May 13, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - SBP executive director Noli Eala said yesterday it’s all systems go for the PBL-Liga Pilipinas merger which is expected to metamorphose into a developmental league for the PBA before the year ends.

Eala explained that the first step is to hold a draft for the merger’s inaugural conference, tentatively called the Tournament of the Philippines (TOP), this Saturday after which the fusion will be announced in a formal launch on May 29 with the first leg to begin on June 5.

At least eight teams will play in the “transition” conference up to August. Eala said it’s possible the PBL-Liga merger will bring in as many as 12 teams. Confirmed to participate from the PBL are Pharex, San Miguel Corp., Cobra Energy Drink and Agri-Nurture. Cebu, General Santos City, Laguna and Taguig will join from Liga. Also in the list of probables are Misamis Oriental, Pampanga and Quezon from Liga and Excel Roof, Toyota and Hapee Toothpaste from the PBL.

Eala is a member of the PBL-Liga executive committee formed to formulate the merger’s operating procedures and policies. Others in the committee are Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno, Joe Soberano, Ding Camua, Chito Loyzaga and Gil Angeles. Assigned to implement the policies are Tommy Ong and Butch Maniego of the PBL and Perry Martinez, Butch Antonio and Rico Meneses of Liga.

“We’re using a hybrid system of eligibility that considers the rules of both the PBL and Liga,” said Eala. “For starters, we will have no age limit but will allow only up to three ex-PBA players for a team. However, we will recognize what we call an incubation period where an ex-PBA player who has played the last two conferences in either league will be exempted from the restriction. One Fil-foreigner will be allowed for each team. A draft will be held using the PBL system.” Eala said the draft will be for players with no previous PBA, PBL or Liga experience. The last two teams in both leagues will try their luck in a lottery to determine which has the first overall pick. A player who suited up in both the PBL and Liga last season will go to the team that wins a coin-flip. A team with more than three ex-PBA players will be required to stay within the limit and the displaced veteran will become a free agent.

Eala said the PBL-Liga draft will be open to PBA draft prospects in August, particularly as the pro league requires at least 15 games in a local minor league for a rookie applicant to be eligible.

An interim PBL-Liga commissioner will be named shortly by the executive committee and at least one name has been floated as a candidate. The appointment will be temporary as when the merger evolves into the PBA developmental league in October, a permanent commissioner will be appointed.

Eala said negotiations are now going on with Solar TV to cover the PBL-Liga contests on a regular basis and with TV-5 to air a “Game of the Week,” possibly in a simulcast.

“We will adapt the Liga format of each team hosting a leg during the conference,” said Eala. “The number of legs will depend on the number of teams. If we get 10 teams, then we will hold 10 legs. After the 10 legs, we will move to the quarterfinals where a team with the better record has a twice to beat advantage in a series matchup. Then we will advance to the best-of-three semifinals and the best-of-five finals. The playoffs will feature the home-and-away format.”

Eala said once the “transition” conference is underway, the executive committee will sit down with a high-level PBA team to discuss the evolution into the developmental league. The PBA team is composed of Sta. Lucia Realty’s Buddy Encarnado, Ginebra San Miguel’s Robert Non and Talk ‘N’ Text’s Patrick Gregorio.

PBA chairman Lito Alvarez of Air21 recently said before his term expires in August, he hopes to lay the groundwork for the developmental league which will be a lasting legacy of his administration. Alvarez has been the moving spirit behind the PBL-Liga merger.

“We envision an affiliate system with PBA franchises,” said Eala. “It’s the same concept that the NBA used in forming the D-League. We will look into a system where PBA players may be relegated to the developmental league for more training and outstanding developmental league players may be elevated to the PBA when they’re ready.”

Alvarez said when the next PBA season opens in October, he will push for regular doubleheaders where the developmental league will play the first game and the PBA the second.

“It’s a win-win-win situation for the PBA, PBL and Liga,” said a keen basketball observer. “Nobody loses in this case. The PBA is supported by a developmental league while the PBL and Liga will remain alive to continue giving jobs through their merger. It’s a step forward for Philippine basketball.”

Rookie camp unfolds today
(The Philippine Star) Updated May 13, 2010 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Rising amateur stars and top collegiate players from all over the country get the chance to show their stuff today when the Philippine Basketball League and Liga Pilipinas conduct a rookie camp for their first-ever basketball venture next month.

PBL executive director Butch Maniego said members of the Smart-Gilas RP team coaching staff will supervise the two-hour camp at the Meralco gym in Pasig City.

Interested participants are advised to come early at the gym for further instructions. The camp starts at 8 p.m.

After the rookie camp, both the PBL and Liga Pilipinas will hold their Rookie Draft on Saturday in time for the opening of their joint project on June 5.

Expected to join the tournament are PBL giants Magnolia and Pharex while Liga Pilipinas will be bannered by perennial champion Cebu, Laguna, Taguig and GenSan.

Maniego said PBL and Liga officials are confident the number of teams will swell on the drafting day since they are close to convincing some team owners to take part in the tournament.