SEOUL, South Korea – The recent Barangay Ginebra-LG Sakers exhibition match is just the tip of the iceberg.
The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is set to pursue a firm and solid affiliation with its counterpart here, the Korean Basketball League (KBL), in what should be one of the cornerstones of Patrick Gregorio’s program as new board chairman.
A meeting has been set for Thursday between PBA commissioner Chito Salud, Gregorio, league operations chief Rickie Santos, and media bureau chief Willie Marcial and KBL counterparts Kim Young Ki along with his officials.
“We want to push that, we want to develop that. I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s aligned to what we want to happen, that slowly but surely, one step at a time, maybe we can invite them to also play in the PBA as guest teams, as guest players, as Asian reinforcements,” said Gregorio the morning after arriving in this advanced South Korean capital for the board's annual planning session.
The momentous meeting comes three weeks after LG Sakers visited the Philippines and played Barangay Ginebra in a well-publicized exhibition match at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
At the same time, Grand Slam champion San Mig Coffee and GlobaPort are currently here playing a series of tune-up matches against different KBL teams.
“I think this is also an offshoot of the LG Sakers guesting in Manila. If you noticed, they were so aggressive (promoting the event). I think I saw three or four of their ads promoting the relationship,” said the chairman.
According to Gregorio, commissioner Salud was the one who pushed for the meeting.
“The commissioner requested for that meeting (Rickie Santos organized it) to find out about their league, about their plans, about their format, and see if we can align. Who knows, maybe we can play a few games together,” said Gregorio, who represents Talk `N Text in the board.
If ever, a partnership between the two Asian leagues could also lead to what Gregorio has long envisioned - that of tapping Asian players as reinforcements.
“I don’t want to call it … I told commissioner let’s not call them imports. We want them to integrate with the Filipino brand of play. If we can design a format where a team or two from the KBL could play exhibition games or even as guest teams,” said Gregorio.
“The KBL relationship building, I think that is very important as far as the PBA is concerned, because we’re opening up the opportunity to play together.”
The meeting with KBL officials is not part of the board’s agenda, but Gregorio said it may included in other matters.
Gregorio along with Salud presided over the whole-day meeting on Tuesday also attended by vice-chairman Robert Non, Dickie Bachmann of Alaska, Globalport’s Erick Arejola, Mamerto Mondragon of Rain or Shine, Rene Pardo of San Mig Coffee, Alfrancis Chua of Barangay Ginebra, Al Panlilio of Meralco, Barako Bull’s Manny Alvarez, Ramon Fernandez of new team North Luzon Expressway, and Ginia Domingo and Dioceldo Sy of expansion franchises Kia Motors and Blackwater.