September 11, 2018

Leo Awards usher in PBA 44th season opener on Jan 13

LAS VEGAS - Taking into consideration the FIBA calendar, the Philippine Basketball Association is making a major shift in its own schedule of activities, including the mix of the Leo Awards with the opening ceremony of PBA Season 44 on Jan. 13.

The 2019 Annual Rookie Draft, meanwhile, is set on Dec. 16 when the current Governors Cup is probably still on its championship stage.

"There are major disruptions in the PBA schedule this year, and you can see the impact. But you can also see the commitment of the PBA in its support of our national team program," said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio.

Done with its calendar for the whole Season 44, the PBA agreed to go back to the drawing board to jive its schedule with FIBA's.

"It went smoothly pero meron din emotional outbreak. But the ending was okay," said PBA board chairman Ricky Vargas on the discussion on the season calendar in the planning session of the league board at The Venetian Hotel here.

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"Baka laruin natin ang third conference next year over two years (2020-2021)," said PBA commissioner Willie Marcial with all the breaks the PBA is taking to accommodate Team Phl's international sorties with a hope of making it all the way to the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

Panlilio expressed gratitude to the PBA for keeping its support to the national team program.

"The partnership and collaboration of the PBA and the SBP have become stronger," said Panlilio, attending the summit as SBP president and a member of the PBA board representing the Meralco Bolts ball club.

After the September break, the PBA is also stopping play in November to give way to another FIBA window.

Thus, the Governors Cup Finals may reach Christmas Day or even beyond.

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Fixed is the Leo Awards coinciding with the Season 44 opener. And it could well be a grand affair.

The coming Leo Awards could well be a June Mar Fajardo event where the 6-foot-10 San Miguel Beer behemoth could be a recipient of a record fifth MVP plum.(SB)