METRO Pacific Investments has written a letter to the PBA formalizing its request for NLEX to be granted the privilege to bring up five direct-hire recruits and given a wider pool of unprotected players to pick from when it forms an expansion team for next season.
NLEX Road Warriors team manager Ronald Dulatre submitted a letter of request to the PBA Commissioner’s Office on Monday morning to seek reconsideration from the initial concessions granted NLEX as well as fellow expansion teams Blackwater Sports and Columbia Autocar Corp. (Kia).
The PBA board had initially given the three teams the 11th, 12th, and 13th pick in the rookie draft as well as the privilege to pick from an expansion draft under a 'Protect 14' scheme.
Those concessions will now come under review when the board meets again on Thursday.
“We just want no lesser than what they (PBA board) have given to the previous expansion teams. Hope they will allow us eventually, since this is the only way we can form a competitive roster,” said the soft-spoken Dulatre.
“This is not for NLEX alone, but also for Blackwater and Kia,” he added.
Dulatre pointed to previous expansion teams like Red Bull, which was allowed to bring up six direct hires from their amateur team, namely Kerby Raymundo, Davonn Harp, Lordy Tugade, Jimwell Torion, Junthy Valenzuela and Bernard Tanpua.
The Manila North Tollways Corp finance department senior manager also mentioned Rain or Shine, which was allowed to bring up Jay-r Reyes, Junjun Cabatu and Jay Sagad as its direct hires after acquiring the PBA franchise of the Shell Turbochargers.
“We just wanted a better leeway, kasi we said to the board that we want to bring value to the league. We want to be competitive and fair to the fans,” he said.
“Kung wala kaming i-aangat (na direct hire), I don't think we can compete with the existing teams. Our growing fan base would be back to zero,” said Dulatre.
The team manager of the five-time PBA D-League champions said they want to maintain the fan base which NLEX has been able to attract with its success in the developmental league.
“We want to bring in our growing fan base. So if we are not a competitive and exciting team in the PBA, hindi malayong mawala ang mga 'yun,” said Dulatre.
If granted the direct-hire privilege, NLEX has a talented pool of players to pick from its D-League team, which is made up of college standouts and Gilas pool members like Kevin Louie Alas, Garvo Lanete, Matt Ganuelas, Jake Pascual, Ronald Pascual and recent acquisition Bobby Ray Parks, Jr.
Dulatre also revealed that part of spreading the talent in the league is to widen the pool for the coming dispersal draft by reducing the 'Protect 14' scheme to a 'Protect 12 or 10.'
“Sana lang din if they can lower the protect 14 to 12 or even to 10 for us to have an exciting team,” he said.
Asked if he considers his move as an exercise in futility knowing how strict the PBA board is, the Road Warriors boss said he was optimistic.
“We know where they're coming from, siyempre manggaling sila sa mababang alok. Hindi naman agad mataas ang concession. Kami naman syempre, kung ano ang feeling namin na makakatulong sa amin na maging competitive yun lang hinihingi namin,” he said.
“Hope they will evaluate further the initial concession given to us. I know they will be considerate to us. We’re just not speaking for NLEX but for the expansion teams,” Dulatre added.