JUST days before Blackwater Sports officials meet with Commissioner Chito Salud for a pre-board recommendation meeting, a new twist - very interesting one - happened in its bid for a PBA application.
One of three major companies seeking to become expansion teams in Asia's first professional cage league, Blackwater Sports has received what team owner Dioceldo Sy described as an "irrestible offer" to join the PBA's rival Asean Basketball League (ABL).
“Yes, there was an email sent to us Friday morning," Sy, owner of the successful Ever Bilena cosmetics chain, told Spin.ph. "And it was a very irresistible offer from the ABL.”
Spin.ph got hold of a copy of the email, which was signed by ABL’s chief operating officer Ridi Djajakusuma and sought to open negotiations for possible entry to the regional league not only of Blackwater but also another Philippine basketball club, Mighty Sports.
What was not contained in the email, Sy said, was an offer for Blackwater to join the ABL without having to pay a franchise fee.
“No franchise fee. That’s why it’s a very good option for us,” said Sy, who, along with representatives from NLEX and Kia Motors, will meet with Salud on Monday to defend his financial statement, which is part of the screening process for PBA applicants.
PBA expansion teams are mandated to pay a franchise fee of P100 million.
While acknowledging that entering the PBA is his top priority, Sy, a former chairman of the PBL, said joining the ABL will also bring a lot of benefits in terms of media exposure to his company.
"If we are approved by the PBA, backseat muna ang ABL. Pero 'pag tayo ay hindi pinalad sa PBA, then we will consider that," said the soft-spoken businessman.
“Joining the PBA is great, but being in the ABL offers a lot of potential for our company, too, to expand further. Southeast Asia ang market nun, plus ESPN pa ang TV coverage,” Sy added.
Sy bared that the ABL offer was sent to one of his assistant coaches at Blackwater Patrick Aquino, who is a friend of Malaysia Dragons coach Ariel Vanguardia.
“Very aggressive sila. Marami silang ginagamit na emisaryo to talk to us,” said Sy.
Whatever happens, the Ever Bilena president also declared that their participation in the coming PBA D-League Foundations Cup, where they are the defending champions, will be their last in the amateur league.
“Move on na kami. We feel we have enough machinery to come up with a formidable team. Who knows, we have mapped out our plans for the team we are forming,” said Sy, who hinted that they will do everything to bring top amateur cagers like Chris Banchero to any league they will play in.
The ABL has failed to kick off for its fifth season on time as it continued its search for new franchise holders from the Philippines following reigning champion San Miguel Beer's decision to disband its team.
ABL officials have tried to negotiate with San Miguel Corporation, Manny Pacquiao, the Manny V. Pangilinan group, Cebuana Lhuilier, and other top basketball companies in the country, but a deal had been elusive.
Mighty Sports, on the other hand, can also be an interesting partner for ABL as the company is a popular basketball backer that parades former PBA stars like Kenneth Duremdes, Rodney Santos, and Marlou Aquino in leagues around the country.