Sy family on PBA doorstep with move to field NU Bulldogs team in D-League
Hans Sy has turned the NU Bulldogs from perennial doormats to title contenders in the UAAP and are set to stage the first NBA preseason game in the country at the Mall of Asia Arena, which now hosts some of the biggest events in the sports calendar. Jerome Ascano

THE SM Group of Companies has just moved a step closer to the PBA.

The giant corporation owned by the Sy family has formalized its entry into the commercial basketball scene with the inclusion of the Banco De Oro team in the PBA D-League.

Team manager Fullton Su confirmed BDO's entry in the developmental league, saying it is the SM group's way of giving their players from National University the needed exposure in high-level competition during the UAAP offseason.

“Bayad na kami. We’re participating in the coming D-League tourney,” said Su. BDO's entry as the newest team in the D-League has yet to be announced by PBA officials.

“We just want to give our boys a team in the D-League, sharpen them more in higher level competitions,” added Su, a family friend of the Sys.

“Our players have been requesting for the formation of a D-League team from us. So instead na kanya-kanyang team sila, we decided to form one for them.”

Under the plan, the NU Bulldogs team to be led by two-time UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks will carry the colors of Banco De Oro in the coming PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup which is set to open on October 24.

Both BDO and NU are owned by the family of Henry Sy, who is listed by Forbes magazine as the country's richest man.

Su, however, was non-committal when asked if the D-League participation will bring the Sy family a step closer to fielding a team in the pro league, in direct competition with other giant companies like PLDT and San Miguel Corp.

“I think that’s too early to talk about,” said Su, who let out a laugh when told that basketball fans have long been waiting for the company to join the PBA ranks.

“Wow, it’s flattering to know. Pero you know, hindi pa napapag-usapan yan,” he said.

The BDO team manager, however, said the sons of company patriarch Henry Sy are very much into sports.

The Sys have turned the Bulldogs from perennial doormats to title contenders in the UAAP and are set to stage the first NBA preseason game in the country at the Mall of Asia Arena, which now hosts some of the biggest events in the sports calendar.

[For full story, see Original plan was to bring NBA regular-season game to country, says Sy]

“Yes, mahilig sa sports 'yung mga 'yun. They played basketball pa nga when they were young,” he said, who bared that NU big boss Hans Sy, one of the taipan's sons, is an active sportsman who plays basketball, baseball, volleyball and golf.

Asked if the young Sy’s passion for sports can push the SM Group of Companies towards a deeper commitment in basketball, the soft-spoken BDO official nodded but refused to speculate.

“Sa ngayon pakiramdaman muna tayo. Sa ngayon talaga, play it by ear muna kami as to what will happen in our campaign,” said Su. “This is our first venture into commercial sports.

“D-League is a big league naman. It’s popular, I don’t see anything wrong participating here … Everything will be advantageous I guess both for BDO and our NU players,” he added.

“We have to see first how we fare in the D-League. Let’s not look further ahead.”

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