By JONAS TERRADO
Ricky Vargas felt a bit unease when he and the rest of the PBA Board of Governors entered the press room to make the announcement that marked the end of the impasse that led to a division between member teams of the pro league.
“I’m not used to press conferences like this,” said Vargas, whose appointment as the season’s PBA chairman after reassuming the role of TNT KaTropa team governor came as a surprise to a busy Sunday evening that saw the resignation of Chito Narvasa as commissioner.
His return to chairmanship after an 11-year hiatus was one of the resolutions met two months after the board was split into half contesting Narvasa’s tenure.
Narvasa submitted his resignation Sunday hours before the opening ceremonies were held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum but was asked by the board to stay until Dec. 31 to handle a smooth transition before Willie Marcial takes over as Officer-In-Charge.
Marcial, the league’s Communications and External Affairs head, will take charge while the league searches for a new commissioner.
Vargas was quick to praise members of both groups, namely Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Alfrancis Chua, Kia’s Bobby Rosales, Meralco’s Al Panlilio and Pato Gregorio, who he succeeded as TNT governor, for the resolution he said made the board “stronger than ever.”
“Alfrancis Chua was always there and looking for solutions, Bobby Rosales of Kia never gave up, Al Panlilio who was beside me as we worked towards a resolution, and Pato Gregorio who unlocked the (impasse) using his magic to reach an agreement between both parties,” he said.
As for Vargas, his role as chairman was unexpected. Ramoncito Fernandez of NLEX was supposed to take over from GlobalPort owner Mikee Romero but the Road Warriors and the KaTropa agreed on a swap, leading to the surprise change.
“There was a swap between NLEX and TNT where NLEX graciously gave the opportunity to be chairman for this year in exchange for NLEX getting the slot of TNT. I think that’s about three or four years from now. That’s what happened and now I’m back,” he said.
With everything settled, the next step is to hire a commissioner tasked not only to handle league affairs but also heal the wounds of member teams.
“That’s what he wants, only for 30 days,” said the source, who asked not to be named. “He’ll be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the PBA, and Vargas will be more active.”
The same source said that a three-man panel would be formed, which includes Marcial, to help him in decision-making like possible trades during his stay as OIC of the PBA.
Privately discussed, according to the source, is tapping former commissioners. However, no names were mentioned during a discussion among some members of the board. (With a report from Waylon Galvez)