While coverage-starved Filipino sports fans continue to make do with replay airplay of games past for various events, as the restrictions for COVID-19 has hampered regular and playoff season play, major leagues in the Philippines have started to get at bare minimum practice time for their players and teams. These would be allowed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the condition that the pro leagues follow strict regulations to maintain social distancing and other health protocols. The Philippine Basketball Association has adhered to the rules and warned franchises of heavy sanctions for violations. But one PBA team owner has been critical of the prohibitions to the point of offering his squad up for sale.
According to CNN Philippines, the Blackwater Elite squad of the PBA is now on the auction block after the team owner Dioceldo Sy has expressed frustration and “offense” at the league one day after being threatened with sanctions following an alleged closed-door practice they held outside of PBA-mandated regulations. Sy made the announcement Wednesday, July 15, where he put the price tag for Blackwater Elite at P150 million, adding further that a number of individuals have contacted him to state their interest in assuming ownership.
In concert with the regulations approved by both the IATF and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), practice sessions for PBA teams were supposed to resume in either the 20th or 22nd of July. And in these practices a team’s roster was to be divided into 4-man batches to be drilled one at a time. The PBA and Games and Amusement Board (GAB) pointed out that on July 11, players of the Elite along with Sy and team coach Nash Racela gathered behind closed doors in July 11 as Racela demonstrated their precautions for practice as the two players performed shoot-around workouts.
While the small number of players was within standards, the fact that it happened before the scheduled practice resumption later this month led to PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial and the GAB warning Dioceldo Sy and Blackwater Elite that they would be sanctioned with a P100,000 fine. If they saw the early “practice” as a necessity they should have given the league advance notice, they said, before doing so. Sy admitted feeling offense for what he perceived as heavy-handedness, leading to him making the announcement that the team was for sale. Until somebody begins negotiations however, the Elite will continue to participate in the PBA.
Blackwater Elite was founded in 2014 after starting in the PBA D-League, with owner Sy also being proprietor of Ever Bilena Cosmetics Inc., of which Blackwater is one of its product lineup. Among their notable members is Gilas player and naturalized American Filipino Marcus Douthit.
Image courtesy of Philippine Star