DON'T look now, but the rivalry between San Miguel Corporation and the Manny V. Pangilinan group may soon spill over into the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
A source informed Spin.ph on Tuesday that Patrick Gregorio, a trusted Pangilinan executive, is now in negotiations with the Kuala Lumpur-based league as the giant company explores the possibility of putting up a second Philippine-based team in the regional league.
Spin.ph has also learned that Gregorio and other officials of the MVP Sports Foundation are set to meet with league executives in Kuala Lumpur, where the league's franchise owners are set to convene beginning on Wednesday to lay down the blueprint for the ABL's future.
ABL chief operating officer Ridi Djajakusuma confirmed they are meeting a Filipino group on Wednesday, but declined to identify the interested party.
“Yes we have a meeting with a group of Filipinos tomorrow (Wednesday), but I cannot name them yet,” said Djajakusuma.
“We are still discussing their application,” added the Thai sports chief.
Djajakusuma declined to go into specifics, saying they still have to meet with the Filipinos. But the soft-spoken league official hinted that the applicant is a "big company and longtime basketball backer in the Philippines."
San Miguel and the MVP group have had a long and heated rivalry in the Philippine Basketball Association where San Miguel owns three teams - Petron, Barangay Ginebra, and San Mig Coffee - and the MVP group two in Talk 'N Text and Meralco.
As the ABL pursued plans for an explansion from the current six-teram roster, Spin.ph has also learned that a tentative schedule for seven teams has already been released by the league for the 2014 season.
Aside from newly crowned champion San Miguel, other teams in the fold are runner-up Indonesia Warriors, Westsports Malaysia Dragons, Sports Rev Thailand Slammers, Jobstreet.com Singapore Slingers and Saigon Heat.
Under ABL rules, a country can be represented by no more than two teams in the league.
The Philippines used to have two teams in the ABL, until the Mikee Romero-owned Philippine Patriots decided to move to the PBA before the start of the 2013 season.