MIKEE Romero is bent on taking Harbour Centre to the highest level, basketball-wise.
On Tuesday, the young businessman/sportsman held initial talks with Philippine Basketball Association commissioner Chito Salud over his intention to own a franchise in the pro league by next season.
Salud emerged from the meeting with Romero convinced that the owner of Harbour Centre – which owned one of the most successful amateur commercial teams ever – definitely wants to be in the PBA when the league ushers its 38th season this October.
“This is a person who’s not just plainly asking or inquiring about a franchise; this is a person who really wants to join (the league),” said the commissioner.
Romero had made several attempts in the past to acquire a PBA team, and once tried to obtain the core of the defunct Formula Shell team, but he insisted he is more determined than ever to own one.
“Game na tayo,” he said about his all-out bid to finally land a team in Asia’s pioneering pro league.
“I told the commissioner that by September 30 dapat may team na ako sa PBA,” added Romero with a hearty laugh shortly after his meeting with Salud.
Romero, son of businessman Reghis Romero from Angeles City, said he still needs to clarify the likely concessions to be given him by the board if ever Harbour Centre comes in as an expansion franchise and the league’s 11th ballclub.
But other than that, it’s all systems go for what Romero referred to as `ang pagbabalik ng Batang Pier.’ Batang Pier was the monicker of Harbour Centre when it was the toast of the defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL)
Global Port Inc. is the entity Romero intends to carry within the PBA, according to Salud.
Salud said Romero indicated his willingness to pay the P60 million fee for a new franchise, but at the same time said that he is open to the idea of acquiring an existing team if by any chance one of the PBA ballclubs decides to sell by the end of the season.
The commissioner said Romero needs at least a three-fourth vote from the PBA board for his acquisition of a new franchise to be approved, while a two-third vote is needed should he decide to acquire an existing franchise.
Romero is expected to formalize his application in the next two days, said Salud, although the team owner said it may take a few more days for him to do so.
Harbour Centre won a record seven straight PBL championships from 2006 to 2007 in one of the most remarkable runs ever by an amateur ballclub.
Romero later stood as the godfather of the national team that won the gold medal in the 2007 Southeast Asian Games in Nakhonratchasima, Thailand, beating the opposition by an average winning margin of 43.0 points.
After the PBL closed shop, Romero brought his team, later re-christened as the Philippine Patriots, to the ASEAN Basketball League, where he served as one of the founding members. The Patriots won the inaugural championship in 2010.
In between, Romero had a short stint as major partner of the Burger King team owned by Bert Lina, and agreed to have a co-branding sponsorship deal for one conference with George Chua’s Barako Bull squad.