FEARS over AirAsia Philippine Patriots’ departure from the Asean Basketball League after Global Port Batang Pier's entry into the PBA were eased by team manager Erick Arejola, who assured on Wednesday that the Patriots will be competing in the ABL's 2013 season that begins in January.
"Yes, tuloy ang Patriots,” Arejola told Spin.ph, ending speculations that the Patriots are on the way out after co-owner Mikee Romero's acquisition of Coca-Cola Bottlers’ PBA ballclub the Powerade Tigers.
Arejola, who served as the Patriots team manager the past two seasons, said Romero will only need to work out some management-related details with his partners Tonyboy Cojuangco and Tony Fernandez.
The Patriots are the ABL's inaugural champions and one of two Philippine teams in the league, the other being San Miguel Beer.
But Arejola hinted of a major revamp in the line-up for the January 2013 ABL season aside from looking for a new coach, since Glen Capacio has been appointed the interim coach of Romero’s new team in the PBA.
The Patriots compiled an 11-4 record in the regular inaugural season in 2009-2010, then, posted a 5-0 win-loss card in the playoffs en roué to becoming the first ABL champions, beating Satria Muda in the Finals.
The following season, AirAsia Philippines went 9-6 in the regular season, won its semifinal series against Kuala Lumpur, before eventually getting swept by the Chang Thailand Slammers in the finals.
In the team’s most recent showing, the Patriots finished the regular season with a 16-5 win-loss card, but bowed to eventual season champion Indonesia Warriors, 2-0, in the semis.
Arejola now serves as the head of basketball operations of Global Port, which is keen to put up a strong and competitive team for the 38th PBA season scheduled to open on September 30.
Gary David, last year’s top rookie pick JV Casio along with big man Rabbeh Al-Hussaini are the key holdovers of the Powerade Tigers who will now banner the Batang Pier along with first-round rookie picks Vic Manuel and Fil-Am Jason Deutchman.