MADRID, Spain – Riding the crest of another successful season as well as Gilas Pilipinas’ impressive return to the world stage, the PBA is set to take another must major step toward expansion.
Just months after accepting two expansion teams in Blackwater Sports and Kia Motors in time for the coming season, the PBA board, led by chairman Pato Gregorio, has approved plans to accept two more teams by 2016.
“The board has unanimously approved the idea,” Gregorio told Filipino reporters who covered Gilas’ great run in the Fiba World Cup capped by an 81-79 win over Senegal – the Philippines’ first win at this level in four decades.
Gregorio, who presided over the board meeting which coincided with the quadrennial event, said the league this early is talking to three major companies interested in joining the league when it expands to 12 teams by 2016.
“We will definitely expand, and it will happen in the 2015-2016 season,” said Gregorio, who is one of Talk ‘N Text’s representatives in the board. “We’ve been told that league officials are already talking to at least three companies.”
One of them, Gregorio said, is Hapee Toothpaste, which has had a successful run in the commercial leagues and is now ready to make the jump to the pro ranks.
Hapee owner Cecilio Pedro, who was one of the Gilas’ cheerleaders in the World Cup, confirmed his interest in acquiring a PBA franchise, saying his wholly owned Philippine company needs the PBA mileage to compete with its multinational companies.
“You need to spend for advertising,” said Pedro, “otherwise maiiwan ka.”
Gregorio declined to reveal the other companies which have shown interest in buying a franchise, but league insiders said one of them is a sister company of Kia engaged in a different line of business.
Gregorio insisted there is definitely room for expansion for the pro league, citing Gilas’ success which can only translate to popular support for the PBA as well as the record number of players in the last rookie draft pool.
“Our goal is to take the league to a whole new level,” said Gregorio.