BLACKWATER Sports plans to take Asean Basketball League games to cage hotbed Cebu and other provinces if it decides to take up the offer to put up a Philippine franchise in the regional league.
Blackwater Sports team owner Dioceldo Sy, who the ABL is aggressively courting, has suggested that ABL games be played in the provinces and not just in Metro Manila, which hosted the games of the Philippine Patriots and San Miguel Beer-Philippines in the past.
“I suggested to them na huwag lang dito sana sa Manila ang games. Why not bring it to the provinces like Laoag, Cebu, Davao, Cagayan De Oro, etc,” said Sy, the chairman of the PBL during its glory days in 2000 to 2004. “Nagustuhan naman nila (ABL officials) yung suggestions natin.
“Sabi ko sa ABL, you should see how Filipinos in the provinces value basketball. They're very passionate. Dito kasi sa Manila, marami nang kakumpetensya, di ba? Sa probinsya, dudumugin yan.”
Sy believed taking ABL to the countryside could rekindle the interest of local government units in regional basketball, something that was lit back in the late 90’s during the shortlived glory days of the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA).
However, Sy's ABL plans are still dependent on his application for an expansion franchise in the PBA. Blackwater Sports is one of three teams whose applications are currently being reviewed by the PBA board, the others being NLEX and Columbia Auto Corporation.
The PBA board is set to convene on Thursday to scrutinize the financial status and other documents submitted by the three applicants.
Regardless of the decision of the PBA board, Sy said he finds a lot of potential in the offer of the ABL.
“Sa ABL, medyo nakikinig sila sa mga suggestion natin. And there is much room for growth sa ABL eh. Marami pang room for improvement. Pwede nating matulungang mapalaki ang ABL,” said Sy while going over the franchise prospectus presented by ABL.
The ABL, he added, can also lead to business opportunities for him since the league's team owners belong to the who's who in Asian and world business.
The opening of the ABL’s fifth season has been thrice postponed due to lack of a Philippine participant, which ABL officials claim to draw around 60-70 percent of its audience.
“Very aggressive yung ABL sa pag-aya kay kay Mr. Sy, interesado rin na magkaroon ng Philippine team,” said Kuala Lumpur Dragons coach Ariel Vanguardia, one of the contacts used by ABL officials to lure prospective team owners in the country.
“Aware yung ABL na may PBA application sila (Blackwater), kaya hinihintay na lang yung result nung sa PBA. Tapos malalaman kung ano magiging next move ng ABL sa kanila, depende sa PBA decision,” added the former Talk 'N Text coach.
Vanguardia bared that there are already seven teams in the ABL following the arrival of two new franchises from Indonesia and Thailand.
“With or without a Philippine team, aandar na yung ABL sa July. Pero siyempre, alam ng ABL ang importance ng may Pinoy team kasi malaking market ito eh,” said the soft-spoken coach.
Aside from Blackwater Sports, the ABL is said to be courting LBC, another sports-oriented company which is behind the cycling event Ronda Pilipinas and former MBA team Batangas Blades, as well as Malolos-based cigarette brand and basketball organization, Mighty Sports.