MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner Willie Marcial recently paid tribute to the players who are set to retire at the end of the league's 45th season.
Several of the league's stalwarts are all set to hang up their kicks after this season, with some concluding their careers after the Philippine Cup.
NLEX's Asi Taulava and Cyrus Baguio, Magnolia's PJ Simon, and Alaska's Sonny Thoss are all set to walk away from the PBA at the end of the season. TNT KaTropa forward Harvey Carey, for his part, is also contemplating retirement.
For Marcial, their contributions to the league are immeasurable.
"Nakapagbigay sila ng kaligayahan at saya sa mga fans," Marcial said of these players, in an interview on "The Score."
"Asi, PJ, Cyrus -- lahat sa mga 'yan, pag sinasama ko sa Homecourt, ang gulo, ang saya."
The Homecourt initiative is one of Marcial's programs that seeks to bring the PBA players closer to their fans. Once a week, he along with some players and coaches make a surprise visit to a barangay court, where they get to play with children and local players.
"Masaya ako para sa kanila," the commissioner said.
On a personal level, Marcial has also grown close to these players, even before he became the league commissioner.
"Kasa-kasama ko lahat 'yan," he said. "'Yung iba pa nga, inaanak ko sa kasal. So, masaya ako para sa kanila, kasi andoon na sila eh. Nasa taas sila -- superstar sila."
Marcial's dream is for future generations of PBA stars to also give back to the fans the way that Simon, Taulava, Baguio, and Thoss have done in their careers.
"Ang sa akin, mapalapit 'yung mga fans sa mga players. Na hindi sila suplado, mabait silang kausap," Marcial said. "'Yan ang gusto ko mangyari, na iisa ang mga players namin, iisa ang mga fans. Kasi sila talaga ang bumubuhay sa amin."
All PBA activities -- including Homecourt -- are currently suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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