Noli Eala

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Jose Emmanuel M. Eala, better known as Noli Eala, was the sixth commissioner of the Philippine Basketball Association from 2003 to 2007. Before he became the commissioner of the league, he was a play-by-play commentator of Viva-Vintage Sports, which broadcasts the PBA Games, from the early 1990s until 2002. He was elected as commissioner of the league in 2002 after his predecessor, Emilio "Jun" Bernardino, retired from his post.

Early life[edit]

Eala studied high school at La Salle Green Hills before studying at Ateneo de Manila University, when he took a degree on Law. He also played a part as team manager for the Blue Eagles.

Play-by-play commentator[edit]

In his collegiate years, Eala used to call on the Man on the Ball radio show of Romi Kintanar. This later helped land him a job as commentator for PBA games on radio before joining Vintage Sports, later renamed as Viva-Vintage Sports on its TV panel. Eala started as an analyst from 1992 to 1994, then becoming a play-by-play commentator by 1995. Later on, Eala became one of the most popular commentators in the league with his famous lines such as Susmaryosep (a well known Filipino expression), Sumabay ka pa! (He went with it!) and Nobody does it better, which drew raves and rants from fans.

Eala had Andy Jao, Quinito Henson and Tommy Manotoc as color commentators during his years. However, in 2002, he was named as the sixth commissioner of the PBA. It also marked Viva-Vintage's last season as PBA TV coveror. He, alongside Manotoc, called Viva-Vintage's last PBA coverage during Game four of the All-Filipino Finals series between Coca-Cola and Alaska.

Even with his current role as commissioner, Eala had brief appearances on the mic. He was one of the commentators during the 2005 Southeast Asian Games, calling mostly Badminton and Boxing matches. He also called a June 2005 Ateneo-La Salle Reunion Game for Studio 23. He is also became one of the commentators for the MVP Cup 2 Badminton tournament.

Notable calls[edit]

1997 PBA Commissioner's Cup Semis: Game 7 of SMB vs. Gordon's Gin[edit]

" A minute and fifteen remaining... wala pong kukurap, this is the PBA mystery theater at its best... (Olsen) Racela... seven seconds sa kanilang shot clock, tumira sa kanto...patay!" -1:15 left in the first of the two overtimes played until Gordon's Gin prevailed, 106-100.

Newscaster[edit]

Eala also became news anchor of the now-defunct IBC News Tonight in 2002, replacing Anthony Pangilinan, but left the newscast prior to assuming the post of PBA commissioner.

PBA commissioner[edit]

Eala won the commissionership job in 2002 after a series of interviews by the PBA Board of Governors. He beat former Shell head coach and BCAP chair Chito Narvasa and Pilipinas Shell executive Rey Gamboa for the post.

Disappointing first season[edit]

Eala began his stint as commissioner in 2003, replacing Jun Bernardino as commissioner. Eala's first season was frustrating as the league was involved in several controversies. Early in the season, Talk N' Text's Asi Taulava and San Miguel's Dorian Pena were found to have tested positive of taking illegal substances by the Games and Amusements Board. This suspend both players for two games by the league. After this, Eala imposed a new drug testing policy on all PBA players. It led to massive discovery of less than 10 players testing positive, which drew several criticisms from fans and media alike.

Attendance woes also affected the league during the said season. While the All-Filipino Conference had a decent number of attendance, the special Invitational tournament and the import-laiden Reinforced Conference drew disappointing numbers at the gate. One of Eala's plans to revive the league is by holding a tournament with foreign teams matching against PBA squads. This led to the Invitational tournament, in which four foreign squads were invited to join. However, Yonsei University, Novi Sad, Magnolia Jilin Tigers combined to win only a single game in the tournament, that drew another criticism on the league. While the Reinforced Conference had a decent success, the best-of-seven finals series between sister teams Coca Cola and San Miguel had a disappointing attendance during the full seven game series.

New format[edit]

Before the end of the 2003 season, Eala proposed a new format to the PBA Board of Governors. While Eala's plan was to have a one conference season for the league, instead of the usual three conference format, the Board decided to have two conferences in a season. The board also approved Eala's plan to move the league calendar from February to December to October to July, which took effect in 2004. One of the reason's for the move is for the PBA to take an active part in the formation of the national team in future international competitions. As part of the preparation for the new format, the league held a transitional conference known as the Fiesta Conference, which was held from February 22, 2004 until July 7, which was won by crowd-favorite Barangay Ginebra Kings, which drew a crowd of over 10,000 in the four games played at the Araneta Coliseum. The league's format during the said conference is to give the top two teams after the classification phase an outright quarterfinals berth, while the bottom eight will compete in a wildcard phase, with the winners facing off in the round robin quarterfinals format, joining two foreign teams, the University of British Columbia and a US-led squad. However, the format was criticized after the two foreign teams showed up losing all of their games in the quarterfinals. Aside from this, San Miguel, who had 16-2 record, was eliminated from the tournament.

In the 2004-05 Philippine Cup, Eala changed the tournament format, to avoid top teams being eliminated early. The format would give the top two teams an outright semifinals berth, while the three to ten teams will play in a wildcard phase, with the winners advancing in the quarterfinals before facing the two teams in the semifinals.

Fil-sham controversy[edit]

Eala also made noise during the well-publicized Fil-sham (foreigners posing as Filipinos; only Filipinos can play as locals in the PBA, foreigners play as imports) controversy that has hounded the league for years. In 2004, Eala suspended six foreign cagers because of lack of documents to prove their Filipino blood. This also led to a controversial decision by Talk N' Text to suit up Asi Taulava during Game One of the Philippine Cup championship series against Ginebra. Taulava played for the Phone Pals, that resulted in a win. Two days later, however, the commissioner reversed the decision and awarded Ginebra the win.

In 2005, Eala indefinitely suspend several Filipino-Americans, notably Eric Menk, for failing to secure additional documents to the league on time. In June 2005, after Taulava's citizenship was proven, Eala lifted the ban on the 6-9 center. Later in the year, the commissioner imposed an amnesty act that would gave Menk and Mick Pennisi full authority to return and play for their mother teams.

Reunion games[edit]

In 2003, Eala announced a reunion game between Crispa and Toyota as part of the All-Star festivities at the Araneta Coliseum, featuring past players from both the Redmanizers and the Tamaraws. Toyota won the game 65-61, on the late-game heroics of Robert Jaworski. In 2005, the TM Legends Game was held, in which two teams compromising of the league's 25 Greatest Players will play at each other. The team of coach Baby Dalupan won 96-92, with Allan Caidic named as MVP.

Eala, also played a part in forming the Ateneo-La Salle (Ateneo and La Salle are fierce rivals in the UAAP) Dream Games on December 8, 2005, which pit a group of PBA players and current players from both schools to face each others. The main event saw Ateneo defeating La Salle by three points.

Marketing[edit]

Under his watch, the league saw an improvement on its marketing aspects. An example of this are lowering of ticket prices that began in the 2005-06 PBA season, particularly on the Upper Box levels to only five pesos.

This helped the league improved its average attendance from an estimated 4,000 in 2005 to more than 7,000 after the said season.

Promotion was also imposed in the league with the help of several advertisements, TV programs like the league's in-house show iPBA and other gimmicks.

Involvement with the national team[edit]

In late-2004, Eala and the Basketball Association of the Philippines signed a memorandum of agreement for the pro league to send their players in international tournaments such as the FIBA-Asia Champions Cup, the William Jones Cup, the FIBA Asia Championship, and, if possible, the FIBA World Championship and the Olympics. Eala was given authority to choose then-Coca-Cola mentor Chot Reyes as the coach of Team Pilipinas.

However, when the basketball crisis happened in April 2005, Eala sided with the Philippine Olympic Committee, instead of the heavily criticized BAP. Eala also made the constitution for the proposed new basketball body, known as Pilipinas Basketball. As it turned out, the BAP and Pilipinas Basketball were instead ordered by the FIBA to merge into a new body called the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, of which Eala is a member.

Under his watch, the national team suffered a 9th place showing in the recent 2007 FIBA Asia Championship in Tokushima, Japan, after failing to enter the next round with losses to eventual champion Iran and Jordan.

In several interviews, Eala is urging for the implementation of the FIBA rules in the league in order for the players to easily adjust once they are called for the national squad.

Disbarment and resignation[edit]

On August 1, 2007, the Philippine Supreme Court (in a 9-page per curiam decision) disbarred Eala because of his "grossly immoral conduct" that stemmed from an extramarital affair. Eala violated Canons 1 and 7 of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility because of his affair with a married woman named Irene Moje prior to the judicial declaration that her marriage was null and void.[1] On September 20, 2007, the Supreme Court of the Philippines dismissed with finality Eala's motion for reconsideration, ruling that, in engaging in an affair, Eala ridiculed marriage as mere "scrap of paper", and violated his lawyer's oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws.[2]

This resulted in the PBA board, during an emergency meeting on August 7, 2007, voting 5-3 to sack Eala as commissioner. On the same day, Eala announced his resignation from his post due to the circumstances of his disbarment case.[3]

The league appointed former PBA executive director Sonny Barrios as officer-in-charge.[4] On January 17, 2008, executive director Renauld Sonny Barios was named new PBA commissioner by the board (after Chito Salud and Lambert Santos did not get enough votes) until 2009 (after Noli Eala resigned in August 2007).[5]

Criticisms[edit]

Eala has been criticized by numerous fans for some of the decisions he made during his three-year run as commissioner. Eala was questioned in 2003 and 2004 for inviting ragtag foreign teams in a PBA sanctioned event. Eala was also questioned for the fil-sham controversy while some also questioned his role in the POC-BAP crisis. During his days as a commentator, some questioned his way of calling the games on television.

However, some praised the commissioner for his role in the national teams initiative, the new league format, as well as the two reunion games held in 2003 and 2005. His decision to have the league hold its annual All-Star Games in the province, pitting the North and South All-Stars, was well received.

Eala was also in hot water after the Eugene Tejada incident, when the latter suffered a life-threatening incident against Red Bull on May 14, 2006. In a column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Beth Celis wrote a piece in which claims that Eala was not in the venue and was "probably tired". [1] After the piece was written, Eala reportedly complained to Celis for her somewhat poor judgment on the commissioner and also aired his side about his absence with Celis and in a separate article written by Quinito Henson. This was confirmed by Celis a later column, which accused Eala of having a "bad side". [2] Eala also did not sanction Red Bull's Mick Pennisi and Enrico Villanueva after Pennisi landed on Tejada, both were accused of planning to injure Tejada, since "there was no malice on the incident."

Eala was also questioned for his proposed "3-point dunk" for the 2006-07 season. This proposal drew criticism from most PBA coaches and basketball purists, who believe that the league should focus on rules applicable to the international game.

The rule was in fact used during the season in the April 2007 PBA All-Star Game in Baguio City.

Post PBA commissioner activities[edit]

On January 21, 2008, New Jersey promoter Gary Shaw confirmed (in Manila) IBF flyweight champion Nonito Donaire's title defense versus Hussein Hussein in Dubai on April 4. Third Force Promotions per president Noli Eala will stage the triple world championship card. The 2 other world title fights include - WBO minimumweight champion Donnie Nietes against No. 1 contender Daniel Reyes of Colombia and IBF lightflyweight titlist Ulises Solís of Mexico against OPBF Juanito Rubillar.[6]

On May 31, 2008, Eala launched Liga Pilipinas, a regional basketball league. It folded in 2011, following the failed merger of the league with the Philippine Basketball League

He became the Executive Director of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas. Then in the late 2000s he was hired by the San Miguel Corporation to oversee the operations of their three PBA ballclubs: Barangay Ginebra, San Miguel/Petron and Purefoods/B-Meg. In 2013, he was relieved from his post to help out SMC's infrastructure businesses.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Related links[edit]

Preceded by
Emilio Bernardino, Jr.
PBA Commissioner
2003-2007
Succeeded by
Sonny Barrios