Selling to spite PBA, GAB?

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    BLACKWATER owner Dioceldo Sy doesn’t like being “pushed to the wall” and believes his team did nothing wrong when some of the Elite engaged in a shootaround last Saturday, more than a week after the PBA was given the green light by the IATF to hold practices under strict protocols.

    Unfortunately, the PBA and the Games and Amusements Board have frowned on what the Elite did, and fines and suspensions are likely coming.

    These have obviously irked Sy, who decided to put up his franchise for sale after saying the team violated nothing and that what his team did was “non-issue” for him.

    “It will be hard for me to support the PBA if my heart is no longer there,” he said on Wednesday.

    Any move to sell a franchise would have to be approved by the PBA Board. Sy is willing to let go of the franchise for P150 million that he bought for P120 million in 2014.

    There was no immediate response from the PBA and the GAB as of yesterday afternoon. GAB chief Baham Mitra, however, said earlier that Blackwater “violated the omnibus guidelines of the IATF on safety protocols.”

    Sy did not dwell on the ill effects of the lethal coronavirus on Blackwater, whose mother firm is Ever Bilena Cosmetics Inc. Armchair observers said could be another likely reason for his decision to sell.

    Long before Sy announced that Blackwater is up for grabs for a minimum of P150 million, Malaya-Business Insight sources have given a hint of the Elite’s probable exit from the PBA.

    All the sources pointed to Blackwater being one of the two hardest-hit franchises in the league since the country was placed under strict quarantine levels due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the other being Columbian.

    Autocar, owner of the Dyip franchise, had little to no car sales since March at about the same time the PBA shut down all its activities after having played just one game in its season-opening Philippine Cup.

    Ever Bilena also experienced the same drastically reduced income when its products’ usual outlets like malls and boutiques were closed down.

    Even Magnolia’s representative to the PBA Board, Rene Pardo, related that no less than Blackwater counterpart Silliman Sy admitted as much.

    “Bugbog sila, totoo iyon. Sinabi nila Silliman iyon, na they’re very hard-hit dahil siyempre hindi priority iyung produkto nila,” Pardo said in an interview last month.

    Columbian ultimately transferred its franchise ownership to sister company Terrafirma Realty, an option Ever Bilena doesn’t have.

    The PBA is targeting July 22 as the tentative date for the teams’ return to practice, after the joint administrative order (JAO) allowing such has been signed by the GAB, PSC, DOH and the Inter-Agency Task Force. A copy of the signed document is being awaited by the PBA.

    In the absence of a signed JAO, PBA teams are not allowed to hold practices and Commissioner Willie Marcial has warned violators of hefty fines, much like Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar and Rain or Shine’s Adrian Wong, who had to dole out P20,000 and do hours of community service each for participating in an unsanctioned 5-on-5 game.

    Marcial could not be reached for comment yesterday but a league insider said the commissioner has summoned team officials through a letter and, at the same time, preparing the supporting paperwork for possible penalties.

    In successive meetings with players, coaches and team managers Marcial has repeatedly prohibited the holding of unauthorized practices.

    Ironically, it was Dioceldo Sy himself who let the cat out of the bag when he said during an online interview that some of his players engaged in a shootaround last Saturday.

    “Possible fines and suspensions will be issued. They violated the omnibus guidelines of the IATF on safety protocols,” Mitra said in a statement.

    That proved to be the last straw for Blackwater’s owner.

    “I was offended, bullied and pushed to the wall,” Sy was quoted as saying on Wednesday night.

    “We were excited when it was announced that practices would be allowed. We had two players shooting around. What’s wrong with that? What did I violate? This is a non-issue for me and we will get sanctioned for that?” Sy also said.

    “Kung ganu’n lang eh di bebenta ko na lang ‘yung franchise habang may bibili.”