IT’S not just basketball but also other sports programs that stand to benefit when NLEX expands its grassroots development programs deeper North.
NLEX marketing head Allan Gregorio told Spin.ph the Metro Pacific Investments company has already laid down plans to help develop grassroots sports in the far-flung areas in Central Luzon.
“We intend to commit more sa development ng sports sa mga probinsya kasi we noticed ang daming mga mahuhusay sa sports na galing sa norte,” said Gregorio, brother of current PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio.
“In the coming month, we have already upped our sports support as NLEX plays host to the coming Le Tour De Filipinas and Ronda Pilipinas cycling races,” he said.
Gregorio stressed top cyclists in the country come from Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac, provinces where NLEX is looking to further uplift the level of sports.
“Noong araw pa, hindi pa tayo sinisilang, ang cycling sa mga probinsya na yun, talagang boom na. And they were able to produce world-class riders,” Gregorio noted, mentioning the likes of former Tour champions Armando Catalan and Joel Calderon of Nueva Ecija and Jess Garcia, Arnel Quirimit, Baler Ravina, and Santy Barnachea of Pangasinan.
Apart from cycling, Gregorio said other sporting disciplines will also get financial assistance as directed by NLEX president Rodrigo Franco.
This summer alone, the PBA expansion franchise is set to stage basketball tournaments in different provinces that pass through its tollways.
“Next month we’ll be having basketball tournaments and a clinic in Tarlac. We are also establishing same events sa iba pang probinsya even to as far as Laoag and Cagayan Valley,” he said.
“Hindi lang talaga ito bahagi ng aming corporate social responsibility to develop athletes from the provinces, pati tourism gusto nating i-push sa North and Central Luzon,” Gregorio added.
“On a marketing aspect kasi, if you conduct big sporting events, chances are, you also bring in tourists sa mga events na 'yun sa mga probinsya. Tourism and sports work both ways eh.”
Also on NLEX’s radar are sports such as triathlon, marathon, among others as per the mandate of almost all companies under the group of businessman-sportsman Manny V. Pangilinan.
“We will bring sports to a higher level sa Luzon. And the fans and upcoming athletes will feel that in the next few months,” said Gregorio, also assistant team manager of NLEX.
“Our company is known to winning championships. That is the same philosophy we want to share to our kababayans sa mga probinsya na sine-serbisyuhan ng NLEX,” he added.