IN the eyes of sportsman-businessman Manny V. Pangilinan, three-time PBA D-League champion NLEX has the talent to play and compete in the PBA.
As for the Road Warriors’ serious intention to join the pro league by next season, it’s something the man they referred to as MVP denies being aware of at the moment.
“I’m not aware of it (NLEX expressed intention to join the PBA). I really don’t know,” Pangilinan revealed to Spin.ph at the halftime break of Game Four of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series between Talk ‘N Text and Alaska at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday night.
Team manager Ronald Dulatre earlier bared to Spin.ph the company’s plan to take its act to the pro league after a dominant campaign in the D-League where the Road Warriors have won all three titles staked so far.
Still, Pangilinan, who owns the successful amateur franchise, believes collegiate standouts like Ateneo big man Greg Slaughter, Letran ace guard Kevin Alas, along with former San Beda guard Garvo Lanete and Fil-Am Matt Rosser represent the future of Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league owing to their youth and dynamism.
“The NLEX team currently constitutes a strong team and in some respects, they can play in the PBA because they’ve got the talent,” said Pangilinan, also the team owner of PBA ballclubs Talk `N Text and Meralco.
“Clearly, they are the rising stars of college leagues like the NCAA, UAAP and others.”
At present, Pangilinan said he’s hoping Slaughter and Co. would be able to contribute to the cause of Smart Gilas-Pilipinas 2.0 as it begins its buildup for the 2013 Fiba-Asia Men’s Championships set in Beirut, Lebanon.
Come January 10, the Gilas squad of coach Chot Reyes, will be competing in the Dubai International Tournament followed by another meet in Hong Kong later in the month.
The top three teams in the Fiba-Asia tilt gain outright slots to the 2014 Fiba-World Championships in Spain.
“Some of them are signed for Gilas, pero gusto lang namin itawid sa 2014. Sana mag-qualify tayo sa World Championships. Hanggang dun lang naman iyun, then we’ll take it from there,” Pangilinan added.
Slaughter, Lanete, Rosser as well as former San Sebastian Stag gunner Ronald Pascual have all been signed as part of the Smart Gilas cadet pool this year.
On the other hand, contracts are being readied for Alas, FEU playmaker RR Garcia, and Jake Pascual of San Beda.