Basketball

PBA puts Lassiter trade on hold

AKTV/Paul Ryan Tan

The PBA has put on hold approval for the proposed trade that would send Powerade star rookie Marcio Lassiter to Petron Blaze in exchange for Noy Baclao and Rey Guevarra.

League commissioner Chito Salud made the decision amid reports that the Powerade Tigers franchise has been sold or in the process of being sold to San Miguel Corporation, which owns the Boosters.

“I don’t want to impute bad faith or anything about the trade, pero hindi naman ako tanga,” said Salud.

Teams owned by the same company are prohibited from trading directly with each other. As commissioner, Salud has the power to veto or revise player transactions before they become final.

The Lassiter deal, which was submitted to Salud’s office on Tuesday, has raised howls of disapproval among officials of other PBA teams. Last week, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Powerade has already been sold to SMC, which has been denied by Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc., the company that owns the Tigers.

But a document obtained by InterAKTV reveals that the Powerade team was offered for sale to the conglomerate last November.

The report comes on the heels of a banner tournament for the Tigers, perennial whipping boys of the league who made an improbable run to the Philippine Cup finals. A lot of that success could be attributed to the entry of Lassiter, the fourth overall pick in last year’s draft who ranked third in the whole league in statistical points for the all-Filipino tournament.

PBA chairman Mamerto Mondragon said the league’s Board of Governors will push through with a special meeting on Friday to discuss the Powerade sale and the Lassiter trade. Officials of Coke, meanwhwile, will meet with Salud on Monday to talk about the reported sale.

“I look forward to a more transparent, fair meeting that would be beneficial for the fans,” said Salud.

Meanwhile, reports of Powerade’s sale offer has drawn strong actions from other members of the PBA board.

“I’d like to appeal to the PBA board to show their sense,” said Meralco representative Ramon Segismundo, who added that he expects any sale between Powerade and SMC to encounter rough sailing.

“You need two-thirds of the vote from the board [to have a sale approved]. I don’t think they did their homework. Now they’re encountering problems.”

Another member of the board who requested anonymity, meanwhile, heaved a sigh of relief that the Lassiter deal has not been approved.

“The Board of Governors should think what is good for the league,” the governor said regarding the sale. “In my personal opinion, kailangan lahat padaanin doon sa botohan.”

A high-ranking official from another team, for his part, questioned the timing of the Lassiter deal, especially since the Tigers were coming off a winning run.

“Any other time, you could justify giving a good wing star away to acquire a potential good big in Baclao. Maybe an adjustment, like add a second round draft pick in addition to Rey Guevarra would make it palatable,” said the official.

“But the trade now, after Powerade just got into the finals, defies all conventional wisdom that you give the young core a chance to grow together. And the timing is really off in supposedly addressing your weakness in the paint when the conference now allows unlimited heights for imports.

“Things are not adding up.”

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