TOKYO – An expanded D-League, retired players’ trust fund, two expansion teams, and a sports academy are some of the long-term programs the PBA is trying to look at in the next five years.
The undertakings are part of the projects presented by league president and CEO Chito Salud before the PBA board headed by chairman Robert Non at the end of its annual planning session at the Tokyo Hilton here on Wednesday.
Salud stressed the matters are all concepts right now but which he hopes would be able to realize within the time frame of three to five years.
As the D-League enters its fifth season, Salud stressed the need to expand it and stage tournaments in Cebu, Davao, and Luzon, particularly in the Ilocos region.
But wait, there’s more.
The former commissioner also disclosed the possible creation of a D-League featuring women’s players.
“We will embark on that. Give us a year and we’ll introduce a women’s D-League,” said Salud in his media briefing in the presence of Non and new commissioner Chito Narvasa.
Salud also bared the league is again open to the idea of accepting at least two expansion franchises after welcoming Blackwater and Mahindra (formerly KIA Motors) to the fold last season, bringing to a record 12 the total number of member teams.
But he made it clear, opening the gate anew for possible new companies would depend on the way the Elite and Sorento will perform after their rather disappointing campaigns in their maiden season.
“We will accommodate expansion teams, maybe two within the next three to five years depending on the performance of the last two that we accepted,” said Salud.
So far, Hapee Toothpaste and Racal Motors are the two firms which already submitted letter of intents to join Asia’s first ever play-for-pay-league.
And then, there’s the welfare trust fund and sports academy, which Salud said would benefit the players’ themselves.
The league executive clarified the retired players welfare fund should not be confused with the existing players’ trust fund, which according to him, pertains strictly, solely, and exclusively to educational needs.
“Yung retired players welfare fund the proposal is to help them subsidize their health care needs. So we have to find sources for the seed money,” said Salud.
For the sports academy, Salud said the league will try to look for a small venue which will serve as training and rehab facilities for various sports.
“It will also house a training facility, along with residential accommodations and commercial premises,” he added.
“Again, hindi immediate implementation niyan, but at least we have a direction for that.”