WHILE almost everybody's attention is focused on Blackwater Sports' bid to crash the PBA ranks, another company has been silently working on its own bid to join the pro league.
Spin.ph sources bared that top Korean car maker Kia has already submitted a letter of intent to join Asia's first play-for-pay league, even beating Blackwater to the draw.
One of the top five carmakers in the country, Kia, sources added, tendered its application for an expansion franchise three days ahead of Blackwater, which filed its letter of intent at the PBA office last Friday.
"Mas nauna pang nagpasa ng sulat ang Kia. Sila ang nagpahayag ng interest, and we are very happy to accommodate them," said a league insider who asked not to be named.
Although it has no known basketball roots in the Philippines, the Korean car giant is intent on becoming a part of the PBA, with no less than a top official of its Philippine operations handling the negotiations.
"Top official nila ang nakipag-usap sa PBA. Sa ngayon wala pa akong alam na tao nila na galing sa liga o any basketball figure. Basta they only expressed their willingness to join 'yung liga natin," said the source.
The same source believed Columbia Motors, which holds the distribution rights of Kia cars in the country, is most likely putting its marketing program in line with its parent company which has several sponsorship tie-ups with major sports events in tennis and football.
"Ang Kia kasi sports-minded 'yung approach nila sa marketing ... 'Yung Australian Open lang at yung ibang big-time tennis events, sila ang sponsor. So baka nakiki-ayon na sila sa mother company nila," said the source.
Kia's application for an expansion franchise will be discussed by the board on Thursday, where the application of Dioceldo Sy's Blackwater Sports will also be part of the main agenda.
Should they both be given green light to join, the PBA will have 12 teams starting next season - the biggest membership in the 39-year history of the league.
Meanwhile, another information reaching Spin.ph revealed that NLEX Road Warriors officials are also contemplating on pursuing their bid to join the PBA.
The Manny V. Pangilinan-controlled company was in fact prepared to move up since last year.
"Anytime naman ready na kami. Basta't bigyan kang kami ng go signal ng mga bossing," said a source from NLEX.
"May programa na kami if ever. May mga players na rin."
"Sayang talaga yung mga players namin. Since two years ago nga, PBA ready na kami. Dati nga may (Clifford) Hodge, Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang, Gregory Slaughter at Chris Ellis pa kami," added the source.
Despite the departure of Abueva and Co., NLEX still has some of the best players in the D-league, among them Kevin Louie Alas, Garvo Lanete, Jake Pascual, Ronald Pascual, Baser Amer and Matt Ganuelas.