RUMOR: The Philippine Patriots will formally bow out of the Asean Basketball League (ABL) once owner Mikee Romero’s Global Port Inc. is accepted as the 11th member franchise of the PBA.
FACT: The sportsman/businessman whose passion for basketball seems boundless, is again knocking on the PBA door, hopeful this time of acquiring a team he can call his own, and become the newest ballclub in Asia’s pioneering pro league by the time it opens its 38th season on September 30.
But the ambitious move comes with a price. Entry into the PBA meant Romero will now have to maintain a team in each of the two major leagues, a task that should come at a high cost, even for a person of Mikee’s stature.
Acquiring a PBA team alone may mean shelling out P60 million as franchise fee, or perhaps even higher if Romero decides to buy an existing franchise lock, stock and barrel. The Harbour Centre owner also spends around P40 million in maintaining the Patriots’ ABL franchise that requires constant travelling given the home-and-away format of the fledgling regional league, of which the team is among its pioneer members.
Owning a PBA ballclub being one of Romero’s obsessions, the Patriots’ days with the ABL may now be numbered.
The young team owner himself intimated plans to give up his ABL franchise the moment his application for a PBA team is approved. “I think we just have to concentrate on one,” he said. “Mabigat din `yung marami.”
Romero, however, said he has yet to tell ABL executives of his plan to leave the league once he’s officially bound for the PBA. The Patriots won the inaugural championship of the league featuring teams within the Southeast Asian region.
A check with the PBA office revealed Romero has yet to formally submit his application for a franchise before he left for the London Olympics. Mikee also happens to be the president of the Philippine National Shooting Association and will be attending the 30th Olympiad to support the 11-man Philippine team that included skeet shooter Brian Rosario.
As early as 2006, Romero had already been seeking entry into the PBA when he initially sought to buy the Shell Formula franchise, which Rain or Shine later acquired. Three years later, he entered into a partnership with Bert Lina as a major controlling player with the Burger King team in the pro league, a venture that didn’t even last a conference. Then in 2010, Romero had a co-branding agreement with the Barako Bull ballclub, where the brand and logo of Harbour Centre was prominently displayed at the back of the players’ jersey. The agreement was only for a single tournament.
So far this is the closest Romero have come to acquiring a PBA franchise he can call his own, after he personally met with commissioner Chito Salud and bared his serious intention of joining the league as its newest team member.
Unfortunately, success for Romero on this venture will mean bye-bye for the Patriots.