Opening a can of worms?

There’s a conspiracy in the PBA and Wilfred Stephen Uytengsu Jr. is at the forefront.

Days after the formal release of long-time Alaska mentor Tim Cone from his organization, the Alaska Aces owner launched a tirade saying that there are some PBA teams that are getting away in cheating the salary cap.

In the same press conference, Uytengsu stated that Alaska tops the league in salaries last season.

I find that amusing.

Sure, Alaska is a perennial contender to any conference they play but let’s admit it the Aces have a next-to-mediocre bench. When Larry Fonacier left the squad, the drafting of Elmer Espiritu was deemed useless. When they picked Samigue Eman, they sent away John Ferriols. When Joe Devance wanted out, the team settled with Jay-R Reyes. Before that Reynel Hugnatan was sent away for Hans Thiele.

Their bench isn’t as solid as it was in the previous season before but worse, so is their starting five.

So what the hell right?

Former PBA chairman Rene Pardo urged Uytengsu to find solid evidences of graft and corruption in the league. What Pardo is saying is next to impossible unless Commissioner Chito Salud is helpful enough to provide information to Uytengsu.

I guess this was the same thing Lucio “Bong” Tan was pleading adamantly when the Tanduay Rhum Masters was still part of the PBA in the early 2000’s. After the citizenship issues that took down Sonny Alvarado and MIA-ed Eric Menk and Rudy Hatfield, Tan had enough. He began to question why his team isn’t getting the breaks and at one point got massive heat for signing Danny Ildefonso to a 16-year 98 million peso contract. Let’s face it – that contract may be a bit odd – but it’s their money, right? After the deal was nullified, Bong Tan called the PBA a “San Miguel League” and this led to Tanduay sending their top stars to the San Miguel squads and eventually disbanding.

Thank Tanduay for sending Menk to Ginebra and Dondon Hontiveros to San Miguel.

Uytengsu has been stating the flaws but has yet to point fingers.

But we all know where this is going.

Here is the Alaska Aces roster from the end of the 2002 season:
Mike Cortez, Ali Peek, Don Allado, John Arigo, Brandon Cablay, Rob Duat, EJ Feihl, Don Camaso, Migs Noble, Jon Ordonio, Eugene Tejada, Stephen Padilla, Richard Del Rosario, and Alvin Castro.  

For those who don’t remember, this was Alaska’s imba lineup where near 80 percent of the team have foreign blood. This was the reason why there is a maximum 5 Fil-Am rule in the league now. This roster could have triggered the SMC teams to shore up their roster.

But unfortunately for the Aces, this was not the squad that brought them championships.

Years later...

Here is the Alaska Aces roster from the end of the 2007-08 season:
Willie Miller, Jeffrey Cariaso, Sonny Thoss, Reynel Hugnatan, LA Tenorio, Tony Dela Cruz, John Ferriols, Larry Fonacier, Eddie Laure, Aaron Aban, JR Quinahan, Junjun Cabatu, Rensy Bajar, Ariel Capus, and Poch Juinio.

Here is the Alaska Aces roster from the end of the 2009-10 season:
Cyrus Baguio, Tenorio, Devance, Dela Cruz, Thoss, Hugnatan, Fonacier, Mark Borboran, Brandon Cablay, Samigue Eman, Cariaso, Topex Robinson, Kelvin Dela Pena, and Mike Burtscher.

The 2009-10 season gave the Aces two finals finishes with the Fiesta Cup going in their favor.

And here is the Alaska Aces roster from the end of the 2011 Governor’s Cup:
Tenorio, Thoss, Baguio, Dela Cruz, Wesley Gonzales, Bonbon Custodio, Jay-R Reyes, Borboran, Cablay, Thiele, Eman, Aris Dimaunahan, Paolo Bugia, Burtscher, and Ervin Sotto.

If you check out the last three Alaska squads I previewed here, is this... what you call... a “maximum salary squad”?

In fairness to Commish Salud, he has been trying his best to create an even playing field in the PBA. One major veto he pulled was the Air21-San Miguel trade that included the first three picks of the 2010 PBA Draft for a couple of aging veterans. While Danny Seigle has been fantastic as of late, everyone thought he was washed up. This is why Salud brought in Hontiveros to make the deal a valid one.

But then we had to see the trade that gave Petron (formerly San Miguel) the rights to the third pick Chris Lutz as well as Carlo Sharma and the return of Dondon Hontiveros for Mick Pennisi, Sunday Salvacion, and the eighth pick that turned out to be Allein Maliksi. And then there’s B-Meg’s decision on whoever is appropriate to trade with Mark Barroca.

And now there’s the Tim Cone to B-Meg rumors.

While it was in Joe Devance’s discretion on whether or not he still wants to play with Alaska, Devance must know which team can still afford his services. I am sure James Yap and Kerby Raymundo have max contracts but I’m also sure players like Peter June Simon, Marc Pingris, Rafi Reavis, and Roger Yap aren’t paid with chopped liver. Talk N Text and Meralco, the other rich sister teams are also in the hot seat now following their use of Air21 (Ranidel de Ocampo), Barako Bull (Mark Isip and Gabby Espinas), and Sta. Lucia (Kelly Williams, Ryan Reyes, and the return of Peek) to contend against the SMB squads.

If the continuous violation of the salary cap continues Uytengsu is thinking of leaving the league. This will never be good for the integrity of the league. Sure, Uytengsu is merely thinking of his team... but what can they possibly do, right? This is the PBA’s call. While PBA free agency has been tweaked to serve the players better, how can they stop players from signing lucrative contracts to players that are willing to sacrifice playing time for money?

The only solution that the PBA can make here is to publicize the salary and their contracts. Maybe a free agent tracker can be a good widget for the PBA website. While in the end, corporate undertakings will/may trump the voice of the people, at least the public can get pissed with whatever ploy they are about to do.

After all, unlike the NBA teams, PBA teams carry the brands they want to sell. The companies that produce these brands have corporate visions, mission-vision statements, advocacy campaigns, and a code of morality. This is what Uytengsu is has been yearning for because indeed, under the table deals are bad for the league’s stature.

Are PBA teams ready for the repercussion of what happens when these PBA teams are proven certified cheaters?

Game over.


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