Blue-chip veterans Anthony, Perez and Wright welcome salary cut but are hoping it’s not for long and that they get back to playing soon
The Philippine Basketball Association’s landmark pay cut measure starts next month as it hopes to plug financial leaks while action remains shuttered with the country experiencing a new wave of COVID-19 infections.
Commissioner Willie Marcial announced last week that he recommended a 20 percent cut to the PBA leadership—which was approved without hindrance—with the aim of providing team owners breathing room in spending at this time when an economic fallout appears to be more and more pronounced each day.
“I’m grateful to all the team owners who have supported us during the pandemic,” NorthPort’s do-it-all star Sean Anthony told the Inquirer on Monday when asked how players like him are going to take this drastic measure, something which the teams didn’t do last year even if only one conference was played.
“I understand the salary cut [is] for the future of the league,” he added.
CJ Perez, easily one of the most recognizable faces in the current crop of young stars, said he is also sympathetic to the PBA’s cause.
“We understand it. We get that it’s something that they have to do at this point,” Perez said in Filipino. “And we’re also lucky, considering there are people who have lost their jobs.”
Players, coaches and staff were among those who continued to receive their salaries in full even after the pandemic struck March last year as hundreds of thousands—if not millions—began losing their jobs with companies folding up.
Perez, though, had one valid concern in all of this: “There are veterans [who are established] and there are also rookies. There are those who just got into the league, so what about them?”
“I hope all the players are all right,” added Anthony, who also does investments. “The PBA held player seminars on finance where we were taught about saving and having ‘rainy day funds.’ I hope the [other] guys were listening.”
Only utility staff from all of the PBA’s 12 teams are excluded from the measure, with Marcial also cutting the salary of the Commissioner’s Office staff in a commendable show of solidarity.
Matthew Wright, Phoenix Super LPG’s franchise player, said that the league’s belt-tightening measure is understandable. But the Gilas Pilipinas marksman feels that something could’ve been avoided had the government played its cards right in handling this crisis.
“It’s unfortunate for everyone, to be blunt. I understand why and what it is for. But It’s also frustrating how we got here in the first place,” Wright said.
“[This] could’ve been avoided,” he added.
Wright, just like Perez, is a new dad. And he has become exasperated over the state of the country’s COVID-19 response.
It also doesn’t help that several neighboring countries are able to play the game these athletes love the most.
“I see how every other Asian country is playing or have finished playing,” Wright said. “Korea, China, Japan, etc. We should be at their level.”
That sentiment was echoed by Anthony, especially considering the fact that the PBA was able to hold a tournament in October last year—in a bubble that was the first of its kind in Asia.
“The PBA has already proven [itself] with proper testing and safety protocols that [the league] can run safely,” Anthony said.
All three could only hope that things would change for the better. And fast.
“I just hope it lasts for just a month,” Perez said.
Wright, on the other hand, is taking comfort that this episode just adds to his growth.
“It’s a tough situation. This has never happened before,” he said. “It’s character-building, as I always say.” INQ
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