NEGOTIATIONS are underway for the possible sale of the Air21's franchise in the Philippine Basketball Assocition to NLEX, a source has revealed to Spin.ph.
NLEX, which is under the Metro Pacific Investments Group of Manny V. Pangilinan, was one of three companies whose application for expansion franchises in the pro league were approved by the board.
But unlike Columbia Autocar Corp. - distributor of Kia Motors in the country - and Blackwater Sports, NLEX has yet to pay a part of the P100 million franchise as required by the PBA board.
NLEX officials have instead asked, and were granted, an extension until June 7, saying they needed more time to "evaluate" their plans after the three expansion teams were denied the right to bring up direct-hire prospects to the pro league.
[See NLEX yet to pay P100M franchise but quick to allay fears of PBA pullout]
NLEX officials are mum on the option to buy an existing franchise, but Air21 governor Lito Alvarez was quick to play down the possibility.
“Wala pa naman kaming nakakausap. Wala pang tumatawag sa akin regarding that,” said Alvarez.
But the amiable Air21 executive declared that he won’t be surprised if an official from the MVP group will approach him regarding a possible sale when the board meets anew on May 29.
“Hindi ko pa talaga alam, siguro papakiramdaman ko pa sa board meeting. Magkikita kita kami nun eh. Pero hindi ako siguro magugulat na kung may mag-aalok nga ng ganun,” he added.
NLEX has a successful team in the PBA D-League and it has made no secret of its desire to bring up the core of that Road Warriors team to the pro league.
However, NLEX, as well as Kia and Blackwater for that matter, will have a very difficult time putting up a competitive team under the limited concessions granted by the PBA board.
Still, buying an existing franchise should be more appealing for incoming members under the present circumstances since it can fast-track the development of its team.
Alvarez did not give a direct answer when asked if the Bert Lina-owned franchise is thinkin of giving up its PBA participation, which began after the 2001 season when it bought the Tanduay Rhum Masters franchise.
“Eh sa ngayon kasi napapasarap pa kami sa PBA, kita mo naman galing pa kami sa isang semifinal appearance,” said Alvarez.