Is parity a reality in PBA?
I HAVE been a diehard basketball fan who followed the PBA from way back the fabled Crispa-Toyota days.
Back then, Crispa and Toyota were the powerhouse teams in the league.
One reason why Crispa and Toyota lorded it over the rest of the field was that they were able to get the better players most of the time and directly negotiating with them. Clearly, teams that can pay players more get the ‘big guns.’
And one way to address this problem and somehow level the playing field is the Rookie Draft. Trades were also allowed but are subject to restrictions and control by the PBA Commissioner.
There is also the salary cap per team so that teams cannot sign multiple ‘superstars’ with maximum salary from the free agency.
All these were put in place to level the playing field.
But did it ready succeed? Is parity becoming more a reality in the PBA today?
The fact that there are several teams owned by the same group like San Miguel and MVP, there are critics who point out that there may be “behind the scenes” negotiations between sister teams that favors a particular franchise.
The fact that Christian Standhardinger ended up with the Beermen in a trade with Columbian Dyip who picked the Fil-German No. 1 overall in the Draft was a much criticized one resulting supposedly in stronger teams getting stronger while the weaker teams, whose resources were not the same as the superpower teams, were not improving at all.
You can’t avoid the perception that the weaker teams were simply trying to make money by trading their ace players to ‘moneyed’ teams.
Personally, that Standhardinger trade should not have happened but at the same time, I also cannot fault the team that benefitted from the lopsided deal because both parties reached an agreement and the PBA commissioner approved it.
The fact that Alaska emerged as the team of the 1990s with its numerous titles won supports the fact that there is an opportunity for independent teams to survive and compete with success in the PBA.
Alaska may not have the ‘superstars’ but the Aces are out there fighting for every win everytime.
Fast forward to the current team standings in the PBA Philippine Cup: Phoenix is ahead at 4-0 though head coach Louie Alas would be the first to admit that he has yet to play the heavyweight teams. At second place is Rain or Shine (4-1) and then NorthPort (2-1) at third.
These three teams are not expected to be up there although it is too early to conclude because powerhouse teams TNT and San Miguel Beer, both at 3-3, are starting to catch up.
Columbian (2-4) and Blackwater (1-4), as usual, are struggling to keep their heads above water and I doubt if they can make it past the quarterfinal round.
Anyway, whatever the case maybe, the indications are there that the league has become generally more competitive among the majority of the teams.
Although there may be “superteams” in the league, some teams are holding their ground and showing some sort of resistance.
And that is good for the league.
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