ONE OF the leading contenders for the soon to be vacated position of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner is Dr. Ernesto Jay Adalem of Saint Clare College of Caloocan. His qualifications and resume are very apt for the very prestigious albeit demanding job.
Currently, Dr. Adalem is the Treasurer and Finance Committee head of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) of which the PBA is one of the stakeholders. The SBP is the only legitimate national sports association for basketball recognized by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and most importantly the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
He is also one of the founders of the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) in 2001, easily the fastest growing varsity sports organization in the country. The NAASCU was the first league to throw its support behind what would eventually become the SBP in 2006.
The NAASCU will open its 15th season later this year. For a league to last that long speaks volumes of the leadership capability of Dr. Adalem and his associates.
Slowly but surely, he helped transform the Saint Clare Saints from whipping boys to championship contenders, eventually bagging their first NAASCU championship in 2012 followed by back-to-back runner-up finishes the last two seasons. Not bad for a small family-owned school going up against the bigger and more established universities.
On the heels of the Saints’ 2012 NAASCU conquest, he made the bold offer for the team to represent the Philippines in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Burma. Aside from the NAASCU, the Saints captured the 21st National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA) crown in 2014 via a clean sweep of all its games.
Of course, Dr. Adalem has also had experience as a player in his youth. He was a role player for the power house University of Santos Tomas High School varsity when they were still called the Nuggets, but he later opted to focus on his studies and eventually became a Medical Doctor.
Aside from basketball, Dr. Adalem is the President of the Philippine Handball Federation (PHF) wherein he has recruited several former cagers to form the core of the national teams in the Olympic sport that is a hybrid of basketball and football. Being an NSA head, he has been appointed by the POC as the country’s chef de mission to several international sporting events like the SEA Games and has held officer positions in other NSA’s.
In his sporting life, Dr. Ernesto Jay Adalem has exhibited an unquestionable track record of hard work, passion and integrity. These are the qualities needed for a very sensitive position like PBA Commissioner.
The PBA has had lawyers, a military officer and businessmen appointed as Commissioner. Perhaps it is time to give a doctor a chance for he just might have the prescription that will take Asia’s first professional league to the next level.