|Incumbent PSC commissioner Mon Fernandez was once the commissioner of the MBA. Ivan Saldajeno (file photo)|
MANILA--Amid a call from Coach Tommy Manotoc for the league to do so, fellow PBA legend Mon Fernandez believes turning Asia's premier professional basketball league into a regional league is easier said than done.
The PBA's all-time leading scorer is well aware of it because four years after he retired from playing, he accepted a crucial role to become the first commissioner of the MBA, which only lasted for five seasons.
"That would be kinda hard to do on a regional basis," Fernandez, currently a commissioner for the Philippine Sports Commission, said on Friday when he guested in the Sports on Air Weekly podcast.
Fernandez said that how the teams name themselves is already proof of how difficult a conversion would be.
Founded in 1975, the PBA is primarily patterned like that of the old MICAA, that is, it is the companies that are putting up teams to represent and even market their products.
The MBA began in 1998 as "strictly" a regional league where teams are representing a certain city or province, although some of the clubs are solely bankrolled by their major sponsors.
Eventually, though, the MBA allowed the teams to add their primary sponsors to their monikers like when the Cebu franchise became the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems for the league's last two seasons.
Fernandez also believes that should an existing PBA team adopt a city to become its home moving forward, it might entice the other towns to stop patronizing the product it represents, eventually putting the team to financial woes.
"Pag ang San Miguel mag-champion, baka mag-represent sila ng, say, Manila or Cebu. Baka yung ibang mga lugar, sabihin, 'Huwag na tayong uminom ng San Miguel dito sa atin. Talo tayo. Ang lakas nila,'" Fernandez, who began his club basketball career with the franchise in the MICAA during the early 70's and retired as a Beerman in 1994, cited an example.
However, he too believes that turning the PBA regional, despite the difficulties, is actually doable.
"It's really expensive, pero makakaya naman," Fernandez further said. "I'm sure they pretty well know what to do having been there for some time with Commissioner Willie Marcial there. He will have some good ideas on what to do."
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno