IS Barako Bull slowly easing its way out of the PBA?
The franchise that continues to fight admirably despite constantly being shaken by lopsided trades will change its name by the Commissioner's Cup and is likely to be put up for sale at the end of the season, sources told Spin.ph.
“Magpapalit muna sila ng pangalan, pero next year, bago na ang may-ari,” said the source.
So far, there’s no word yet as to what brand the team, bannered by rising stars RR Garcia and veterans JC Intal, Josh Urbiztondo, Mac Baracael, and Willy Willson, will carry in the last two conferences of the season.
But under league rules, the franchise's choices are only limited to the companies under the umbrella of the declared co-owners, namely businessman George Chua, who used to own the Red Bull franchise, and customs chief Bert Lina, who sold his Air21 Express franchise to NLEX last season.
[See Will Barako Bull's ownership finally change hands, pave way for Lina return?]
As it is, both co-owners have very little presence in the team staff and rarely watch the team's games.
The staff of Chua including sons Michael and Paul, along with longtime confidante Raffy Casyao, Jay Llanos Dee, and Dr. John Lim were all removed from their posts prior to the start of the league’s 40th season.
Lina’s longtime corporate man, Manny Alvarez, remains as the team governor, with Reyboy Rodriguez, a former teammate of San Miguel Corp. Sports Director Alfrancis Chua, the team manager.
There are several companies which have already expressed interest in acquiring the franchise, among them Hapee Toothpaste and Racal Motors.
Racal team manager Nick Caparida revealed exploratory talks between his boss Junito Racal and the representatives of the team took place a few months ago, but insisted no deal has been struck.
Caparida maintained the company’s interest to gain control of the Barako team.
“Interesado talaga kami. Kaso after nung first meeting sa Makati ata 'yun, hindi pa ulit namin sila nakakausap,” said Caparida, who is also the team manager of three Racal Motors teams in the Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL) and Filsports Basketball Association (FBA).
“Basta kung ibibigay nila yung dating price ng franchise, okay na kami,” he added without elaborating.
[See Had it not traded away its draft picks, Barako's lineup should look like this]
Under league rules, a team that is on the selling block will be put under the 'lock, stock, and barrel' watch, meaning all transactions are closely monitored by the Commissioner's Office.
Such a rule prevents teams from trading away its key assets prior to a sale.