FOLLOWING another banner season enjoyed by the PBA, new chairman Ramon Segismundo said it's high time the league accepts expansion teams in the league.
The soft-spoken team governor of Meralco said that after a season that saw the league prove its vitality by recording P200 million in gate receipts during the term of predecessor Robert Non, it should open its doors to new members over the next 12 months.
“I think we have already created the foundation. So we would like to talk to some potential and prospective team owners,” said Segismundo, who added the league, through commissioner Chito Salud, will come up with a different approach to lure and screen new member teams.
The senior vice president for human resources and corporate services of Meralco bared he will be very busy for the entire 39th season of the league in taking steps in making expansion possible.
“One of the priorities of the commissioner and myself will be league expansion. We don’t expect it to happen overnight, but certainly in the next 12 months we will develop a lot of steps to make it happen,” he added.
Salud said the league is looking at accepting "one or two members over the next three years."
The abundance of players, including the record 85 rookie hopefuls who applied in the coming draft, is also one of the factors that prompted the league to consider expansion.
They Said It!
“One of the priorities of the commissioner and myself will be league expansion. We don’t expect it to happen overnight, but certainly in the next 12 months we will develop a lot of steps to make it happen." - newly-installed PBA chairman Ramon Segismundo
The last time the PBA accepted an expansion franchise was in 2000 with the entry of Red Bull.
Aside from this, Segismundo also bared his eight-point plan for the transformation of the league aimed at forming a lasting yet flexible institution ready for change and aiming to be relevant in the future.
The agenda includes strengthening partnership with media to heighten mass promotion, stabilizing its partnership with coveror TV5, and support quality investment on professional training for PBA staff, including referees, to raise the integrity of games.
“Our theme for next year is ‘One Philippines, One PBA.’ It’s all about creating basketball nation. So we would like to rally the country behind the PBA, behind Gilas,” bared the league chairman.
As part of this, Segismundo also wants to utilize women referees to further bolster not just parity but also equality in the league.
“We are already exploring the possibilities of tapping lady refs, as well as further improving the officiating of the league,” he added.
Salud supported the move of the new chairman, saying the board agreed to continue developing the main product of the league - which is the game itself.
“That is the product that satisfies our customers - our fans. And when you have a good product, you have to support it with strong marketing thrusts,” said Salud.
“And when all that is achieved over the next few years, hopefully, it will lead to what the chairman said - league expansion. (Maybe) one or two teams within the next three years,” added the commissioner.