HAPEE is ready to move up to the PBA in the immediate future - but only if the ballclub is allowed to bring up its core of players to the pro ranks.
“Ang intention namin to play in the D-League is to go up (to the PBA). Kaya kami sumali sa D-League,” said Hapee owner Cecilio Pedro during the Fresh Fighters’ victory party on Thursday night following their two-game sweep of Cagayan Valley Rising Suns in the Aspirants Cup finals.
“But of course, at this time, we have to look at all the possibilities because we need players,” he added. “We need good players to be competitive in the PBA.”
Behind coach Ronnie Magsanoc, Hapee assembled a powerhouse team that only suffered a single loss in its rookie conference in the D-League. Forming its core were MVP Bobby Ray Parks, Troy Rosario, Baser Amer, Arnold Van Opstal, Garvo Lanete, Art dela Cruz, and Scottie Thompson.
Pedro wants these very same players to go up with the franchise in case it makes the jump to Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league. The team owner said the company will apply for PBA membership the moment such concession is granted.
“Kung pumayag ang PBA na dalhin namin ‘yung core of players namin, nandoon na kami bukas,” said Pedro.
However, the PBA's two newest teams were denied such concessions.
Blackwater was not allowed to bring up the core of its team from the amateur ranks and instead, was left to build its current team through both the dispersal and rookie drafts like fellow expansion side KIA.
Pedro doubts if Blackwater and KIA would support his request for concessions.
“Kia and Blackwater, they are also in need of players. Kung dadalhin namin ‘yung core ng Hapee, baka hindi sila pumayag,” said Pedro.
But Pedro believes Hapee will be a good fit in the PBA owing to the nature of its products.
“The league wants a team like us to join because we are a fast-moving consumer product company. They like to see a following. I’m sure they are interested to invite us to join,” said Pedro.
Pedro said that if the team is not granted any concessions by the board, the company is content to stay in the D-League.
“Kung wala kaming players, dito lang kami sa D-League,” Pedro said.