THE Ramon Ang-Manny Pangilinan rivalry has spilled over into the PBA D-League.
Less than three months after Blackwater Sports halted the dominance of the MVP-owned NLEX Road Warriors in the Foundation Cup, the Dioceldo Sy-owned franchise has formalized a partnership with Ang that makes the Elite the farm team of San Miguel in the developmental league.
“Yes, kami na ang farm team nila sa D-League. It was already approved by Mr. Ramon S. Ang yesterday,” said Sy in an interview with Spin.ph on Thursday morning.
“Actually, matagal na kaming may partnership. Ngayon lang namin talaga na-formalize,” added the longtime amateur basketball patron.
Sy bared that the relationship between Blackwater and the San Miguel group took roots last February when Blackwater allowed Jeric Fortuna to play for the San Miguel Beer-Philippines in the ABL after the Beermen's starting guard Chris Banchero was injured.
“Yun ang start ng partnership namin. Yan din yung proof na talagang matagal na sa amin na naka-ally si Chris,” added the owner of Ever Bilena.
“We lent them Jeric, they vowed to give us Banchero this coming conference. That was when the drafting was not yet institutionalized,” added Sy, insisting that Banchero had already signed a contract with them right there and then.
“Ito yung naging simula nang deal namin with Chris as endorser and player!"
The partnership with San Miguel should give Blackwater enough ammunition to chip away at the dominance of the MVP group's NLEX Road Warriors, who swept the first four titles of the three-year old amateur league before the Elite denied them of a five-peat in the last tournament.
“Tatapatan talaga namin sila. Kasi lalabas joined forces na kami ng SMC,” said Sy, who won championships with Shark Energy Drink and Blu Detergent in the defunct Philippine Basketball League.
Under the agreement, Blackwater can gain access to the reserves of SMC-owned teams while the three pro teams can tap the free agents playing for the Elite.
“Yes, farm team na kami ng San Miguel. They can get our PBA free agent players; they can also give us their reserves. Palitan yun,” he said.
The partnership should once again put Ang in a collision course with Pangilinan, which has two teams in the pro league in Talk 'N Text and Meralco to San Miguel's three in Barangay Ginebra, Petron, San Mig Coffee.
(For full story, see Titanic Rivalry)
Sy is best remembered for pulling out his team in the PBL in 2004 after he was appointed league chairman.
“Kasi kailangan ko i-pull-out team ko noon kasi gusto ko maging balance at patas ang liga. Walang vested interest na masasabi sa akin,” added Sy, who is also currently the chief backer of the NU Bulldogs women’s basketball team in the UAAP.