WITH San Miguel Corp.'s flagship PBA franchise dropping the Petron Blaze name and reverting to its original brand name of San Miguel Beermen, longtime PBA franchise applicant Phoenix Petroleum has seen its hopes rise.
Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc. vice president for external affairs and business development Raymond Zorilla told Spin.ph on Monday the fast-growing company's dream of joining the pro league is still there despite failing to muster enough votes the last time it applied for membership.
"The status of our application (for the PBA) has always been there. Remember we were almost there, we just lost by one vote,” said Zorilla, recalling the time when majority of the PBA board members voted against the entry of Phoenix Petroleum.
“It has always been a dream for us to join the PBA.”
Now may be as good a time as any to revive the application, considering that new PBA chairman Mon Segismundo has made it clear that the league is "aggressively" pushing for expansion and looking to add at least two new franchises over the next two years.
Now SMC's decision to change the name of its flagship franchise from Petron to San Miguel Beer clears the way for Phoenix under the league's 'exclusivity' clause among member companies.
“So if we get invited (again), why not? The PBA is still the biggest and most prominent advertising tool in the Philippines, and it (basketball) is the country’s number one pasttime,” he added.
“Remember we already applied before, probably they (PBA) can always consider it as a continued application. Andyan lang naman yung application namin, unless they want us to re-apply,” the lawyer added.
Although its PBA application was turned down, Phoenix Petroleum has remained active in the sports front. The fuel company forged partnership with the NBA as one of its major sponsors last year and backed the first NBA preseason game to be held in the country.
Zorilla hinted that back in 2011, Phoenix Petroleum was prepared to go all out in its PBA bid, with the company ready to earmark close to P100 million as initial fund.
“That time we were ready to pool our resources to give our PBA team full support,” said Zorilla, who revealed that the company is currently focused on expanding its present 400 stations nationwide.
Zorilla also bared that if and when they can join the league, Phoenix can tap a pool of competent basketball officials and staff, as they have been regularly working with former PBA personalities in organizing major tournaments in their homebase in Mindanao.