PHILIPPINE basketball was rocked with the news on Wednesday night of team owner Dioceldo Sy publically announcing his desire to leave the PBA and sell the Blackwater franchise.
The six-year-old franchise, which came to the league as an expansion team in 2014, has struggled to garner steam in its tenure and only made the playoffs four times.
Sy even put a price tag of P150 million for any potential buyer who wants to take over the team.
But considering the health and financial crisis brought upon by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the process of making that sale won't be easy.
Of course, Sy's statements could have been said out of dismay over the from sanctions the league and the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) following his team prematurely engaging in training.
And if there are no buyers to come, Blackwater will remain as a member of the league.
Yet we couldn't stop from speculating on which companies may be interested in acquiring the franchise if the Elite indeed tests the market.
Here are five of those:
Chatter was quick to point to Chooks-to-Go as one of the potential teams willing to take over the Blackwater franchise.
And why wouldn't they? The poultry company has continued to support the sport of basketball since 2016, serving as the chief backer of the Gilas Pilipinas national team and even formed its own 3x3 league.
Truth be told, Bounty Agro Ventures Inc., the parent company of Chooks-to-Go, have previously expressed its intent to join the PBA before setting those plans aside in 2017.
Right now, Bounty president Ronald Mascarinas said that his company's main focus is on the Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 team, with the Philippines hoping to earn a berth to the inaugural 3x3 tournament come the 2020 Tokyo Olympics via the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
It was none other than SM Prime Holdings president Hans Sy who said that the SM Group studied the possibility of entering the league as early as 2014.
That was the time that Asia's first professional league was looking for an expansion that led to NLEX acquiring the Barako Bull franchise, while Blackwater and Kia being awarded new franchises.
Though Sy was non-committal and obviously didn't pan out, the mall giant's relationship with the PBA couldn't be overlooked as the league has used the SM-owned Mall of Asia Arena as one of its venues since 2012.
The SM Group has also previously put up a team in the PBA D-League, with BDO-NU first suiting up in the developmental ranks in the 2013 Aspirants' Cup mainly as a preseason tool for the National University Bulldogs.
Of this list, Hapee is one of the most unwavering suitors in entering the PBA.
The Cecilio Pedro-owned Lamoiyan Corporation has enjoyed tremendous success in the amateur leagues winning four titles in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL), as well as the 2015 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup.
And they came close as in 2015, the PBA welcomed Hapee's application to be the 13th team before it was deferred to the next season as expansion teams Blackwater and Kia were still getting their feet wet
Nothing, however, became of it and the last time the franchise put up a team was in the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup, where it fell to CafeFrance in the championship series.
In a recent interview, though, Hapee team manager Bernard Yang said that Pedro remains aware of what's happening in the sport and a comeback to the hardcourt isn't a pipe dream.
If there's ever an opportunity for Hapee to make that leap again, this may just be it.
Talking about success, this team doesn't just boasts of triumphs in the local scene but also in the international stage.
The Caesar Wongchuking-owned Mighty Sports has been one of the most active companies supporting basketball outside of the PBA.
Just last January, the Charles Tiu-coached Mighty, flanked by Andray Blatche, Renaldo Balkman, and Thirdy Ravena, captured the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament, adding another hardware to its already overflowing trophy case.
The last time it put up a team in the local scene was in the defunct Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL), where the Mike Fermin-mentored squad which had Kiefer Ravena and Bright Akhuetie as its cornerstones finished runner-up to Jumbo Plastic in the 2016 PCBL Chairman's Cup.
It has since served as sponsors to many teams, most notably for the Go for Gold side which ruled the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup. It was also rumored to join the inaugural PBA 3x3 tournament.
Wongchuking, however, has previously said that he has no plans of bringing Mighty Sports to the PBA as he wants to continue representing the country in international club competitions.
SMC or MVP Group
This possibility isn't really that far off, and what's stopping the league's two biggest umbrellas from taking over and welcoming a fourth team?
SMC isn't a stranger to this as from 2002 to 2006, it had four teams in the PBA when it had Coca-Cola to go with San Miguel, Ginebra, and Purefoods.
That four sister team-setup ended in 2006 when the company sold all of its stakes in the Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. back to the Atlanta-based The Coca-Cola Company.
For the MVP Group, meanwhile, it further expands its stranglehold of the league after its crown jewel TNT and the eventual arrivals of Meralco in 2010 and NLEX in 2014.
The conglomerate has also been active in the amateur ranks.
NLEX is one of the pioneering teams in the PBA D-League, with the Road Warriors winning six crowns until their acquisition of Air21's PBA franchise in 2014.
The group also put up Maynilad Water Dragons, which lasted only one conference in the 2011 Foundation Cup, as well as Metropac Movers, which played in the 2019 Aspirants' Cup.
Cignal HD was also a part of the PBA D-League and took home three crowns with the San Beda and Ateneo cores, the last of which in the 2019 Aspirants' Cup with the Blue Eagles.
It also put up the Biyaheng SCTEX team which competed in the 2016 PCBL Chairman's Cup.
If either the SMC or the MVP groups do pursue acquiring Blackwater's franchise, it's going to be an interesting arms race for those conglomerates within the Board itself.