Former PBA chairman Lito Alvarez is back to represent the Air 21 Express in the league’s Board of Governors.
“Napakiusapan ako ni [Air 21 owner] Bert [Lina] kung puwede daw ay umupo ako sa board ng Air 21 since [erstwhile board representative] Sheila Lina will concentrate on another business,” said Alvarez.
Alvarez was chairman of the PBA from 2009 to 2010, before being appointed commissioner of the Bureau of Customs.
In just a few days at the helm, Alvarez has orchestrated a trade for the squad.
“Hindi ko pa ma-detalye yung trade, pero by next week baka matapos ko na ito,” said Alvarez.
A highly-place source with knowledge of the deal told InterAKTV that the multi-player trade had to be revised after one of the players originally involved in the transaction, Don Allado, earned a one-conference ban for his controversial comments on Twitter.
“Kasama sana si Don, pero dahil na-suspend nga siya, kinakailangan ayusin ulit yung trade,” said the source, who requested anonymity.
Alvarez’s colleagues in the PBA board greeted his return warmly.
“I am looking forward to work with him in the board again,” said Robert Non, who represents Ginebra on the board as alternate governor.
Meralco representative Mon Segismundo also welcomed Alvarez’s return. “Lito brings a lot of PBA wisdom and experience,” he said.
B-MEG executive Rene Pardo, who succeeded Alvarez as chairman two years ago, said: “Lito Alvarez is always a pleasure to work with. He is a great negotiator and keeps our board meeting alive and never with a dull moment.”
Former Coca-Cola executive JB Baylon, who used to represent the Powerade Tigers on the PBA board, said the league will be well-served by Alvarez’s return.
“He’s the board’s peacemaker,” wrote Baylon in a text message. “He’s the consensus builder. I am happy he is back.”
Trading top players
But Alvarez’s reputation among fans is less than stellar. At the helm of the first Air 21 Express franchise, which has since been renamed Barako Bull, Alvarez oversaw the trades of the team’s top stars in exchange for little more than draft picks.
Under his watch, the franchise traded away top draftees such as Yancy de Ocampo (1st overall, 2002), Ren-Ren Ritualo (8th, 2002), Marc Pingris (3rd, 2004), Ranidel de Ocampo (4th, 2004), Jay Washington (1st, 2005), Mac Cardona (5th, 2005), KG Canaleta (6th, 2005), Arwind Santos (2nd, 2006), JC Intal (4th, 2007), Doug Kramer (5th, 2007), Yousif Aljamal (8th, 2007), Mark Borboran (6th, 2008), and Japeth Aguilar (1st, 2009).
Stars such as Gary David, Ronald Tubid, and Alex Cabagnot also found themselves being traded away by Air 21 after stints with the team.
In an interview with InterAKTV last January, one former coach of the franchise, Yeng Guiao, noted how difficult it was to work in that setup.
“Alam mo naman dati kung ano ang papel ko, hindi sa akin ang final decision,” said Guiao, referring to the Air 21 franchise’s penchant for trading marquee players. “Magugulat ka na lang may mga players ka before na nailipat na pala.”