HAPEE Toothpaste on Tuesday formally filed a letter of intent to join the PBA as an expansion team, expressing a willingness to pay the P100 million franchise fee but seeking to bring up as much as seven players directly from the amateur ranks.
A source told Spin.ph the letter signed by Lamoiyan Corporation president Cecilio Pedro was personally delivered to the PBA Commissioner’s Offie by his team manager Bernard Yang at around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
A multi-titled team in the amateur ranks coming off a championship in the D-League Aspirants Cup and a runner-up finish in the Foundation Cup, Hapee said it will immediately pay the same franchise fee shelled out by KIA and Blackwater last year in full once it is given the direct-hire privilege denied the two rookie ballclubs.
In the letter, Pedro said he hopes the PBA board will allow Hapee to bring up as direct hires the nucleus of its last D-League side, namely Troy Rosario, Chris Newsome, Earl Thompson, Arnold Van Opstal, Art Dela Cruz, Baser Amer and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr.
The seven players are expected to join the coming 2015 PBA Rookie Draft set on August 23.
If not, Pedro is reportedly open to negotiations with the board but hopes to atleast bring up the trio of Parks, Rosario and Lanete.
Pedro later confirmed the development to Spin.ph.
“Yeah (it’s true, we submitted our letter of intent to the PBA). Officially!” said said the amiable businessman-sportsman.
"Sana they can grant our request. Kasi ganun naman ang sistema ng PBA sa mga bagong teams dati di ba?” said Pedro, pointing out that Tanduay and Welcoat (now Rain or Shine) were given direct-hire concessions.
Pedro said direct hires will make Hapee competitive in its first few seasons which, he pointed out, will "be beneficial to the league in the long run."
“Oo humingi kami ng concession, syempre. Kung hindi wala kaming players,” he added.
Asked why they are pushing through with their PBA plans, Pedro bared it’s about giving support to his company’s marketing and advertising program.
“Pang support sa program namin and malaking bagay pa rin ang basketball.' Yan pa rin ang gusto nating mga Pilipino eh,” he said.
Asked if he is confident that the PBA board will grant his request, Pedro said, “Ewan ko. Itanong mo sa kanila (PBA board). Pero sana mapagbigyan kami.”
Listen to podcast of interview with Hapee owner Cecilio Pedro: