NLEX has been granted a second extension in the payment of its PBA franchise fee as the company admitted it is still mulling whether to put up a new team or buy an existing ballclub in the pro league.
The PBA has earlier given NLEX and fellow expansion teams Blackwater Sports and Kia Motors a May 14 deadline to confirm its entry into the league with the partial payment of their 100-million peso franchise fee.
They Said It!
“(NLEX is) considering two options: Number one option is to continue with their expansion team entry or, number two, they’re exploring ways of acquiring an existing franchise." PBA commissioner Chito Salud
While Kia and Blackwater have already complied with the requirement, NLEX sought and was given an extension until Saturday to pay the fee - a deadline that has now been moved to June 16.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud confirmed the second extension to Spin.ph on Friday after receiving a letter from NLEX signed by the Road Warriors' team manager Ronald Dulatre.
“Their stated reason for the second extension is that: ‘They’re considering two options. Number one option is to continue with their expansion team entry or, number two, they’re exploring ways of acquiring an existing franchise,” said Salud, confirming a story previously ran by Spin.ph.
“They told us that they will notify us on June 16 as to their final decision,” added the league's lawyer chieftain. “Mukhang (last na 'yun talaga) kasi dikit na 'yan eh!”
Salud bared that he immediately responded to the letter of NLEX with the agreement that the management of Metro Pacific Investments must formally inform the league of its plans on or before the date.
“I replied to their letter and I expect them to make their final decision and to notify my office of such decision by June 16,” said Salud, who revealed that the league has already finalized the schedule of the 13 teams in next season's Philippine Cup, which is tentatively scheduled to kick off on October 21.
“Meron na kaming schedule, ready na kami for next conference. Meron kaming two sets. Gawa na yung 13 teams, just in case hindi matuloy (ang NLEX), meron kaming pang 12,” he said.
Salud, meanwhile, explained that the approval of NLEX’s application for a new franchise doesn't mean automatic approval from the board in the event it decides to change course and buy an existing team.
“Let’s not talk about NLEX per se. I am talking about the process (in the league). It’s in the rules that the approval for an expansion team is not tantamount to an approval for buying an existing franchise,” he said.
“Those are two different modes of entering the PBA,” he said.
However, Salud said his office has yet to receive any advice from an existing team about a possible sale of its franchise to the Manny V. Pangilinan-controlled group.
“Wala eh. In fact, I can go on record. I do not know of any current member ballclub that is in the market to sell, or for the purpose of selling their franchise,” Salud stressed. “I am simply not aware of any.”
For podcast of interview with Commissioner Chito Salud, click HERE
Asked if NLEX has still enough time to get the board approval if it intends to buy a new franchise, Salud wasn't so sure.
“Enough time? Reckon from where? If you tell me enough time reckon from September, eh iba 'yun. Reckon from now or reckon from July. To be honest, I really don’t know how to answer that question,” said the league chief.
Spin.ph had earlier reported that NLEX was eyeing the Air21 franchise of the Bert Lina group. But a team insider insisted there are no ongoing negotiations between the two camps.
The same source bared how Air21 governor Lito Alvarez even tried to initiate talks with his counterparts from NLEX, but he has yet to receive any reply.
“Kinakausap sila ni Mr. Alvarez, pero hindi pa ulit bumabalik. Baka hindi na kami ang kausap nila,” said the Air21 insider.
Another Spin.ph source from NLEX denies talking to Air21.
Rumors also circulated that Alaska was also on the radar of NLEX, but it was quickly shot down by its team governor, Dickie Bachmann.