SAN Miguel Corp.'s "re-evaluation" of its participation in the PBA is seen as a threat to the league; a longtime applicant sees it as an opportunity.
Amid the furor caused by the Renaldo Balkman lifetime ban, Phoenix Petroleum vice president for corporate affairs Raymond Zorilla told Spin.ph the company sees a door opening in its bid to crash the pro league ranks.
“To be honest, the first thing that entered my mind was opportunity,” said Zorilla on Wednesday. "A possibility for us."
“As we’ve been saying all along, the PBA remains the biggest and most acknowledgeable marketing tool in the country today,” he added. “It has been always our dream to be part of a most prestigious organization."
In 2011, the Mindanao-based company already had one foot inside the door but fell one vote short when its bid for membership was voted on by the league's board of governors.
Insiders say that San Miguel Corporation’s decision to change the name of its flagship franchise from San Miguel Beer to Petron was a way to keep the league door closed on Phoenix under the league's 'exclusivity' clause among rival companies.
“Sayang nga eh, we were one vote short. Pasok na sana kami,” said Zorilla, whose company has nonetheless kept ties with the league by way of its title sponsorship of the weekly out-of-town games.
The youthful executive said the management of Phoenix is monitoring the controversy in the league with keen interest and would be ready to act if another chance to join the PBA comes along.
“If the situation is there, then why not. We (Phoenix top brass) will immediately map out plans,” he said.
Asked which of the three SMC-owned teams the company prefers to take over, Zorilla laughed and said: “Definitely not the one that is a competitor to us,” referring to Petron.
Pressed to choose between San Mig Coffee and Barangay Ginebra, both crowd drawers, he said: “Wow, that’s interesting, but I’d rather keep my cards close to my chest muna."
Turning serious, Zorilla added: “We will always be interested (to join the PBA) ... Our interest and passion to join PBA is always there.”