“ONCE Kia makes it to the PBA, they will be a legitimate team owner.”
This statement alone reflects the confidence PBA commissioner Chito Salud has in Columbian Autocar Corporation, one of the three companies knocking on the door of Asia's first professional cage league.
The lawyer PBA chieftain is currently in the process of due diligence or review of the financial and organizational background of CAC, which is the local distributor of top Korean carmaker Kia.
It is obvious Salud liked what he has seen so far, more so the support to be given by Kia's mother company which has a significant presence in some of the biggest sporting events in the world.
“Kung titignan mo kasi yung history ng kumpanyang ito at yung kanilang relasyon sa Kia (world), hindi ka magugulat sa kakayahan nila. Kasi globally, into sports talaga ang Kia,” Salud said.
“Globally, into sports talaga ang Kia. It so happened that in Manila, in the Philippines, the number one sports is basketball and the number one sporting vehicle and marketing tool is the PBA,” insisted the PBA chieftain.
Aside from CAC, the two other PBA applicants which have already submitted their letters of intent and their company’s financial status to the league are Blackwaters Sports (Ever Bilena) and Metro Pacific Investments (NLEX).
Salud words were echoed by PBA chairman Ramon Segismundo, who bared how the officials of Columbian Autocar Corp., led by its president Ginia Domingo, have guaranteed a flawless participation in the PBA.
“Columbian Motors, distributor of Kia, they are supported by their Korean parent. And if you notice, Korean cars are aggressive and competitive,” said the soft-spoken PBA chairman of the board.
“Talagang sports-driven company ang Kia. Sila ang nag-i-sponsor sa maraming events,” Segismundo added.
Asked why Kia is not yet revealing the personalities it plans to tap to lead the franchise once it is accepted as a PBA member, Salud said the company is taking measured steps.
“Alam mo very conservative yang Columbian Motors. They do not want to move until their application has been approved. They’re playing it safe and they’re playing it very carefully and cautiously … but they are eager to join the PBA,” he said.
Segismundo, meanwhile, explained that Columbia Autocar Corp. is now in the process of forming the backbone of its management team, saying the owners of the company are not new to Philippine basketball.
“Misis Domingo is a solid basketball fan, she is a regular fixture in the UAAP. And she is also a supporter of the PBA,” said the Meralco Bolts governor.
“And we are very happy that Kia Motors is coming in," added Segismundo, pointing out that Toyota was the last car company to become a member of the pro league back in the seventies and early eighties.
"This will be very nostalgic for us and the PBA fans dahil magkakaroon ulit ng isang car company sa liga. (So it's like) going back to the glory days of the PBA.”