THE Asean Basketball League (ABL) was thrown in disarray with the sudden pullout of Racal Motors just weeks before the regional league opens its new season on October 28.
ABL chief operating officer Jericho Ilagan confirmed to Spin.ph Racal's pullout, saying the Malolos-based franchise cited the problems the team had with its backers, particularly its partners from Peru.
“It’s a sad development, but Racal has pulled out of the ABL citing reasons that their supporters and business partners from Peru backed out (of its support to the team),” said Ilagan, adding Racal relayed its withdrawal only last Friday.
The Filipino ABL executive claimed that though the league respects the decision of Racal Motors, the latest development obviously hampered its preparations for the coming season, which suddenly is left with just six member teams.
“We respect naman their decision to pull out. Kung nakikita nila na di nila kakayanin 'yung budget, nirerespeto namin yun. Kaso ang problema, bakit now lang sila nagsabi. Kasi sa planning sessions before they were so eager to join. They even made guarantees,” Ilagan said.
With Racal out, the ABL is reduced to six member teams, namely Pacman Mindanao Aguilas, Singapore Slingers, Saigon Heat, Westports Malaysia Dragons, Hi-Tech Bangkok City, and Mono Vampire Basketball Club Thailand.
“The problem now is ayos na ang schedule at plano para sa coming season. Nakausap na rin ng ABL technical team ang Malolos government kasi dun gaganapin ang laro ng Racal. Kasama na rin sila sa lahat ng press releases namin,” he added.
“Even Seaba (Southeast Asian Games Basketball Association), which takes part in the organization and technical side of the ABL, approved na ang participation nila.”
For its sixth season, the ABL held its formal press conference last week, with Racal Motors being introduced as part of the seven-team field.
The ABL is now forced to delay the posting of the schedules of the league’s sixth season as it now has to revise everything from top to bottom because of Racal’s pullout.
“October 28 ang opening namin. Supposedly nakalabas na sked namin last week pa. Kaso we had to delay it kasi nagre-revise kami ng schedule ngayon because nga of the changes,” he said. “Ang dami talaga naming i-a-adjust ngayon.”
Asked why Racal suddenly seemed to be facing financial problems when it in fact, event tried to join the PBA, Ilagan had no answer.
“Yun nga din pinagtataka namin, kasi nag-apply sila sa PBA so it means, may big budget sila to support a team,” he said.
Racal has twice submitted a letter of intent to join the pro league, which has since been deferred for two years.
Racal Motors team manager Nick Caparida earlier said the team is capable of allotting around P40 million annually for its PBA participation, adding the franchise is open to supporting three teams, including one in the coming inaugural season of the Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL).
Caparida failed to return calls made by Spin.ph regarding the sudden pullout.
Racal Motors is into production of locally made vehicles, mostly used as public transport. The company also claims to have a deep relationship with multi-billion dollar Chinese company Alibaba.com.