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Mitra speaks for GAB on controversial Kia-SMB swap offer: "We are intently observing"

Chris Standhadinger is tipped to be the first pick of the draft. FIBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

BOCAUE—GAB chairman Baham Mitra expressed his concern about the controversial trade that will make Kia lend its first round pick in Sunday's PBA Draft, slated to be the first overall pick, to San Miguel.

[Related Story: Kia shipping top pick to SMB]

"There are complaints about the Kia-SMB deal, and we are intently observing," Mitra said in a statement on Friday, hours before the much-anticipated finale of the 2017 season that will feature Ginebra and Meralco in Game 7 of the Governors' Cup Finals and two days before the draft that will start the countdown to the 2018 season.

Commissioner Chito Narvasa is expected to hand a verdict on the trade within the weekend, and for Mitra, it could be a boon-or-bane move for the league.

"How the PBA will handle it will determine if the new season will excite or turn off fans," the former Palawan governor continued.

There is no development on how the trade will look like.

He then called for a balanced composition of the 12 participating teams that could benefit not just the league but even its fans.

"We would like to have a balance between all teams which would help competitiveness and boost sales. We want more teams to grow their fan base. Fans troop to games with star players. The danger of declining ticket sales becomes real when stars are concentrated in only a few teams, " added Mitra.

He even said that the Picanto, who has a huge chance on landing Chris Standhardinger first overall in the draft, are among the teams that need a major overhaul.

"Kia, Blackwater, GlobalPort, and Phoenix seem to need more stars in their team to be able to compete with the others. As in the past, lopsided matches affect public interest, gate receipts and revenues to the government," Mitra further said. "The yearly draft is normally an opportunity for weaker teams to get better players to hopefully even up the games. We hope the coming draft will give teams with lower winning records the fair chance to equalize themselves with the others."

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno