NLEX'S admission that it is pursuing the option to buy an existing PBA team rather than putting up a new franchise from scratch has set off a guessing game on the likely seller.
But this early, Alaska owner Wilfred Uytengsu has taken the Aces out of the market.
The Alaska owner has denied that one of the oldest and most successful franchises in pro league history is entertaining offers from potential buyers, insisting that all rumors saying otherwise are "silly and laughable."
"So silly. It's laughable," Uytengsu said in a short message to Spin.ph.
NLEX, one of three companies given the green light to put up PBA expansion franchises, had been granted an extension on the payment of the P100 million franchise fee that would formalize its entry in the league.
In a letter to Commissioner Chito Salud, the company under the Metro Pacific Investments umbrella admitted to the league that it is looking at the option of buying an existing franchise.
NLEX officials, though, have kept mum amid talk that the Air21 team of Bert Lina and Alaska are two of the teams they have set their sights on.
Other top companies knocking on the PBA door, among them Lamoiyan Corporation headed by president and CEO Cecilio Pedro, said buying an existing franchise is a better option at this point considering the limited concessions given to the three expansion teams.
“Mahirap yung mag-apply ka ng franchise, ang tagal mag-recruit eh. Pipila ka pa sa dami ng (expansion) franchise (applicants), walang mangyayari eh,” said Pedro, who for a long time maintained championship-winning ballclubs in the PBL under the Hapee Toothpaste banner.
“Mahirap 'yun ah. Walang mangyayari,” he added. “Basta existing team, mas madali nang mag-reinforce kesa mag-i-start ka ng zero.”
Pedro also admitted that he, too, would be interested in acquiring a franchise like Alaska if he gets the chance.
“We’re interested in Alaska. If they are willing to sell, we are interested to look into it. Pero basta maski anong existing team,” Pedro said.
Sources from NLEX said they got wind that one company has already sent feelers to Alaska, but Pedro insisted his company has had no contact with any existing PBA team.
“I cannot confirm nor deny yet anything (yet). Wala pa naman, wala pa,” Pedro told Spin.ph.
“We’re planning to go to the PBA. Depende kung ano ang available opportunities. Nasa opportunity 'yan eh. Kung merun eh di pasok sa amin,” he said.