CHANCES of Chris Banchero playing for Blackwater in the coming PBA D-League is becoming dimmer that no less than team owner Dioceldo Sy is honest enough to admit he’s "starting to lose hope."
“I am no longer optimistic,” said Sy, who could do nothing but shake his head upon learning that Café France is giving up its right to select Banchero as the top pick overall in the first ever D-League rookie draft on Thursday after deciding to just forge a school tie-up with Centro Escolar University (CEU).
Sy has been intensely negotiating with the Bakers – who are supposed to be picking first in the draft -for the last three weeks to acquire the No. 1 draft rights which he planned to use to snag the 6-foot-1 Fil-Italian.
Unfortunately, things aren't turning out as planned.
“Kaso they suddenly changed their mind. Instead, they will just focus on being school-based,” said the longtime amateur basketball patron of Café France’s decision to support instead the CEU basketball program.
Both Cafe France and CEU are controlled by Emilio Yap, owner of the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp.
[For full story, see Cafe France giving up right to draft Banchero to forge school tie-up with CEU]
Cebuana Lhuillier is drafting second overall, but appears to be taking the same path as Café France as it is reportedly bent on forging a tie-up with University of the East.
If and when Café France and Cebuana decide to go school-based, Boracay Rum gets the perfect opportunity to tab Banchero first out of the huge cast of 143 hopefuls who applied for the draft.
And that’s where the problem lies, according to Sy.
Boracay Rum is owned by Interbev Philippines, a known subsidiary of Tanduay Distillers, the top rival of the San Miguel Group, which recently forged a partnership with Blackwater that makes the Elite the farm team of the three SMC-owned teams in the PBA.
“Yun ang problema ngayon para sa amin, kasi kung hindi mag-da-draft ang unang dalawa (Café France and Cebuana), makukuha ng Boracay Rum si Chris, direct competitor ng San Miguel yun,” said the Blackwater owner.
“Hindi ko ngayon alam kung paano maiiwasan yun, otherwise magiging awkward dahil si Chris na dating player ng San Miguel Beermen, magsusuot ng uniform ng kalaban,” he added.
“Sabi sa amin ng Boracay Rum, they will draft Banchero pag-umabot sa kanila. As it turns out, mukhang doon nga papunta,” said the worried Ever Bilena company owner.
Blackwater team manager Johnson Martines bared Boracay Rum is indeed, dead-bent on getting Banchero.
“Oo kukunin nila talaga, hindi papakawalan yun,” said Martines. “Nakikipag-usap kami kaso medyo hesitant sila. Dun pa lang alam mo na!”
“Ang tanong ngayon, lumaro kaya sa iba si Banchero. He wants to honor his contract with us, much more his loyalty with San Miguel,” added Martines, whose Blackwater team will be picking at No. 5 pick after Café France, Cebuana, Boracay Rum, and Big Chill.
Banchero already told Spin.ph in earlier interview that he doesn’t want to play against Blackwater, with which he has an existing two-year endorsement deal.
[For full story, see Banchero mulls sitting out D-League if he doesn't end up with Blackwater]
“I already signed a contract with them so I am really hoping I could play for Blackwater,” said Banchero.
“At the end of the day, I realized I don’t want to play against Blackwater!” stressed the Asean Basketball League (ABL) Finals MVP, who is mulling to forego his plans to play in the D-League if things don’t turn out according to plan.