PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial refuses to take any of the limelight despite earning a unique distinction following Gilas Pilipinas’ golden run in the recently-concluded 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.
The all-pro batch emphatically ended the country’s 61-year men’s basketball championship drought in the continental conclave, making the amiable executive the first league commish to ever witness a success of that magnitude.
Looking back, the last time a men’s team won an Asiad title was in 1962 — 13 years before Asia’s first pro league raised its curtains.
But ever humble, Marcial is just happy to have been part of history, adding that it just so happened that the feat happened during his term.
“Nagkataon lang na ako ang naging commissioner,” he offered during Monday’s press conference held at the league’s office in Libis, Quezon City. “Siyempre matutuwa yung commissioner, kahit sino.”
What Marcial is extremely proud of is how this ragtag team managed to overcome every challenge that came their way — from the manpower issues prior, to the grueling schedule they had to endure during the tourney itself.
“Makita mo two weeks lang ang preparasyon; within five days, four games; sa stretch na ‘yun meron pa kaming katulad ng sabi Chairman (Ricky Vargas), 18 hours, 16 hours lang ang pahinga. Dire-diretso,” he said.
Marcial himself was part of the Gilas delegation and he witnessed first-hand how the bond spelled the difference that enabled them to pull through.
“Iba talaga ‘yung sinasabi nilang samahan. Chemistry ng buong team, ultimo ball boy, liaison officers, kami. Ganun ang samahan. Matutuwa ka,” he said.
With all that happened in the two weeks they spent together — and achieved together — in Hangzhou, Marcial couldn’t ask for more.
“May iba ring mga commissioners na matutuwa riyan. Pero sa akin, ano ba masasabi ko? Binigay nila lahat. Kaya nagpapasalamat ako sa kanila,” he said.