Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Opinion: On Willie Marcial as the new PBA Commissioner

Opinion: On Willie Marcial as the new PBA Commissioner
by rick olivares

Willie Marcial, the former media bureau chief of the Philippine Basketball Association, is now the league’s 10 commissioner. This was announced yesterday by PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas.

Marcial moves up from, officer-in-charge to full-fledged commish with a three-year contract. And I for one think this is a good move. He deserves it. He’s another ‘batang PBA” working his way up the ranks. He has literally seen the league from inside and out.

In my time working for the PBA – first with their website and next as editor-in-chief for a year for their magazines aside from working as one of the media officers for the 2013 FIBA Asia as well as the Olympic Qualifiers of the other year – I got to work with Willie. And my experience working with him was great. He isn’t one to pretend he knows things. If he doesn’t know, he asks. If a certain matter isn’t his core competence, he will ask for ideas and help. And that is a sign of a good manager. He doesn’t pretend to know. He doesn’t like to micro-manage and will defer to those who can get the job done. But if you don’t get the job done that is something else.

I got to speak with Marcial this Friday morning via cellphone and he told me that he didn’t see this “promotion” coming. And very humbly, he asked for help. “Alam mo naman, pare, that I will need a lot of help here kasi grabe rin yung challenges,” he said. “Hindi tayo maghe-hesitate to ask for ideas from our friends who are knowledgeable about the league. Yung mga nagmamahal sa liga.”

Marcial has been with the media group for quite some time and I think that this gives him a unique perspective of the PBA. He knows the pulse of the league and the people around it. He gets to hear a lot of opinions, not just from the team officials but also the various members of the PBA Press Corps. He also gets along with coaches and players that is a huge advantage.

I believe that accessibility is good for all. After all, working in media, a huge part of that is relations. Although his dealings with people will be on a different level now, I am sure that he will not want to change certain things. He will remain as approachable.

He is accommodating but not to a fault. He will stay within the bounds of the work that needs to be done.

Hardly two days into his official capacity, he said that he wanted to simplify certain things, “Alam mo naman tayo, minsan kailangan tawagan na lang sa cell with a coach at mag-usap. No need na to summon sa office lagi. We can get things done faster.”

I recall during the making of the short-lived PBA Life magazine (that was closed because of someone who must not be mentioned), we surprisingly did not get help from that person for certain shoots and interviews. We wanted to do some of the shoots at the PBA offices in Libis to save on costs since we didn’t not have a huge budget for shoots) and this person who was supposed to be helping us didn’t lift one finger at all. That person even made Life extremely difficult. Willie pitched in to help immediately. He got us the venue in less than a minute. Of course this made the other person look foolish.

One phone call. Done.

I also recall him personally flying over to a PBA Legend who was in an uproar over a certain matter – caused by someone else. Not a phone call but the trip to the province was a nice personal touch.

Of course, managing a photo shoot or someone’s bruised pride is different when teams are contending over matters such as draft picks, policies, trades, fines, or what not. I suspect it will take more than a phone call for Willie but I have no doubt that he will look for a solution.

It won’t be easy but that’s the challenge.

Good luck, Willie Marcial.

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