HAPEE Toothpaste is set to make a comeback in the basketball scene.
Lamoiyan Corporation basketball operations head Bernard Yang confirmed to Spin.ph that Hapee, a successful team in the PBL, is set to take over the franchise of many-time PBA D-League champion NLEX in time for the developmental league's next season.
NLEX has already made the jump to the PBA after acquiring the Air21 Express franchise while a plan to field another team for the Manny V. Pangilinan group that will carry the banner either Cignal TV or Philex Mining has been dropped.
"Yun ang napag-usapan namin. Pumayag na sa amin ang MVP group. Hihiramin namin ang prangkisa nila ng isang season. We want to assess lang muna ulit ang basketball involvement namin," said Yang.
"Nung 2009 pa kami kasi nawala sa basketball kasi nga alam niyo naman nagka-problema sa PBL noon, pero di naman kami totally tumatalikod sa basketball," said the former Jumbo Plastic team manager.
The PBA D-League Aspirants Cup kicks off on October 27.
The only remaining hurdle to the plan is on whether the PBA Commissioner's Office will approve the transfer of the MVP Group's D-League franchise to Hapee.
"Yun ang kailangan naming asikasuhin. Kasi ang rights talaga na nasa PBA eh MVP group ang lalaro. Tapos bigla nga kaming pumasok," said Yang, who will personally submit the letter of intent and request to the PBA office on Monday.
"Pero umaasa naman tayo na aaprubahan nila kasi talagang excited nang bumalik sa basketball si (Lamoiyan big boss) Dr. (Cecilio) Pedro," he added.
Yang said the planned D-League stint will be Hapee's way of testing the waters before deciding on their bid to make the jump to the PBA in the company of PBL contemporaries Rain or Shine (Welcoat), GlobalPort (Harbour Centre) and just recently Blackwater Sports (Noosa and Shark Energy).
If approved by the PBA, Hapee will be counting on a school partnership with the MVP-backed San Beda Red Lions, the same set-up utilized by NLEX last season.
"Ganun mangyayari. Hapee-San Beda ang dadalin namin," said Yang.
Asked if the team will also be bannered by Gilas cadets Kevin Louie Alas, Jake Pascual, Matt Ganuelas, Ronald Pascual and Garvo Lanete, Yang was non-committal.
Meanwhile, the five Gilas cadets are set to announce their decision on whether or not they will join the coming draft following their meeting Friday night with longtime patron Manny V. Pangilinan at the PLDT office in Makati.
"Depende sa mga NLEX players yun kung magi-stay sila (sa D-League)," he said.