A TOP official of Air21 has admitted that there are ongoing negotiations with NLEX over the possible sale of its PBA franchise.
Lito Alvarez, the Express' representive to the PBA board, said he had initial discussions with NLEX officials over the weekend but denied rumors that a deal has has already been reached by the two camps.
“Wala pa, nag-uusap pa lang kami. Last weekend kami nagkausap about it (possible sale),” said Alvarez, a former PBA chairman.
“Lumapit talaga sila, pero hindi pa ako masaya. Hindi pa kami nagkasundo … kumbaga ‘kahon’ pa,” he added, referring to the old television game show that involved prize haggling, 'Kwarta o Kahon.'
NLEX, one of three companies given the green light by the league to form expansion teams, has yet to pay the P100 million franchise fee that would formalize its entry into Asia's first professional cage league.
The Road Warriors, led by president Rod Franco and team manager Ronald Dulatre, have instead sought - and was granted - an extension until Monday as it pursues the option of buying an existing franchise instead of putting up a new PBA team.
Alvarez declined to reveal the initial price tag discussed on a possible franchise sale, but the amiable Air21 official admitted it was a little higher than the P100M franchise fee required from new PBA teams.
But in another surprise twist, Alvarez revealed that officials of the Metro Pacific Investment-controlled company admitted talking to another potential seller among the other existing PBA ballclubs.
“Nagbitaw nga sa akin ng ganun, may kausap pa nga daw silang iba,” he said. “Sabi nga nila, hindi pa raw kami agad nila maisara (sa deal). Kasi nagbabakasali lang naman daw sila sa amin.
"Pero kung hindi raw kami magkasundo pa, baka i-pursue na daw nila yung other teams.”
The Air21 big boss admitted he has no knowledge on who the other potential seller is.
“Hindi ko alam kung sino pa ang kausap nila. Pero meron nga daw. Kasi kung wala, eh di sana ilang ulit na kaming nag-usap ulit,” he said.
“Tinanong ko kung GlobalPort ba, Rain or Shine o Barako Bull 'yung iba pa nilang kausap. Ang sagot sa akin: ‘Hindi, hindi lang naman 'yun ang teams sa PBA eh.' So malamang may ibang team pa ngang kausap,” said Alvarez.
“Kung hindi kami magkakatuluyan, so talagang may iba pa nga talaga silang kinakausap na team,” he added.
Alaska owner Wilfred Uytengsu has already dismissed talk that he is selling his PBA team as "silly and laughable" while Rain or Shine co-owner Raymund Yu has also flatly denied to Spin.ph on Wednesday that he is entertaining thoughts of selling.
"Hindi kami magbebenta. Nage-enjoy kami," Yu said.
Alvarez said he is taking a wait-and-see approach as NLEX's Monday deadline approaches.
“Sa June 16 ang deadline nila di ba? Pero basta sa akin, commercial discussion ito eh. So pwede ako makipag-usap ulit sa kanila, in case na hindi sila ulit magkasundo nung isang team,” Alvarez said.
“So kung sino man yung kausap nila, I will just wait kung ano mapapag-usapan. Andito lang naman kami.”