TOP officials of Metro Pacific Investments have expressed optimism that the company can muster enough votes from the PBA board to join the league as an expansion team.
NLEX president Rodrigo Franco told Spin.ph he is hopeful of getting the votes from the San Miguel Corp. group despite its long-standing rivalry with the Manny V. Pangilinan bloc, to which the company belongs.
Under league rules, Metro Pacific Investments, representing NLEX, and two other PBA applicants - Blackwater Sports and Columbia Motors - need to get eight of 10 votes to become a member of the league.
As it is, the MVP bloc already controls two teams in Talk 'N Text and Meralco while SMC has three in Ginebra, San Miguel and San Mig, meaning a no vote from the conglomerate can spell doom to any of the three applicants.
Franco, however, said: “We believe we can muster eight votes. Of course, mahirap pangunahan ang board, but I think we explained very clearly why we wanted to join the PBA and what values we can bring to the league.”
“We think they’ll vote on the basis of the merits naman. We hope they won’t turn us down,” added the Manila North Tollways Corporation president, who worked for twenty years as an investment banker for JP Morgan Chase in New York.
But is he confident of getting the needed votes?
"We gave it our best shot. I guess, it depends on the board if they will consider us as worthy member of the PBA," said the Cabiao, Nueva Ecija native, citing NLEX's impeccable track record in the PBA D-League.
“We want to contribute to the growth of the league, we think we have proven our competence through the D-League, we’ve established a fanbase and we’ve established a following. We thought it’s high time for us to join the bigger league.
“We think we can be a credible competitor in the PBA. Of course everything will depend on the arrangement that will be agreed by the board.”
Pangilinan insisted having three PBA teams under one conglomerate will not violate any league laws.
“Wala namang malalabag na batas (ng liga). The PBA allows it. Look at San Miguel, tatlo rin sila, di ba?” said Pangilinan.
“About the right or capability to own another team, we just leave it up to chance. Again, it’s up to the PBA (board). I’m sure they will go through the process,” he added.
Meanwhile, NLEX team manager Ronald Dulatre told Spin.ph that if and when they make it to the PBA, they will be very much independent from Talk 'N Text and Meralco.
“We will be an independent team from the other MVP teams,” said Dulatre, one of the officials behind the success of NLEX in the PBA D-League.
“Nagkataon lang naman na may nauna nang dalawang (MVP) teams sa amin na andyan,” he added. “Pero we will maintain independence of this Metro Pacific Investments team from Talk 'N Text and Meralco, same way there is rivalry of some sorts among the companies.”