In a wide-ranging interview with veteran journalist Anthony Taberna, Ang admitted it was the high cost of running the three ballclubs that prompted him to recommend ceasing the company's basketball operations more than once, the last time during the pandemic.
However, the SMC big boss said he reconsidered each time, mainly because the PBA and its teams remain among the most popular forms of entertainment for Filipinos.
"Sa totoo lang, hindi ho ako nagbibiro, ang laki ng ginagastos dyan," Ang told Taberna. "Kaya lang, ang sabi ng mga kasamahan ko sa trabaho, that is the only entertainment of our countrymen.
"Ang mga kababayan natin, yan lang daw ang libangan nila. Kapag tinigil ko yan, baka magalit sila. Ayaw ko namang magalit sila."
Asked if he was serious, Ang said, "Nirekomenda ko 'yan several times. Laging sagot lang sa akin ng ating marketing managers, operations managers, 'Boss, makakatipid tayo n'yan, pero magagalit ang taong bayan.'"
Ang admitted money poured into the three teams could go a long way in funding the conglomerate's various charities.
"Actually, can you imagine if we can stop the basketball operations at yung perang 'yon, bigay ko na lang sa charity, sa educational fund, mga scholarships," he said.
When asked about the cost of maintaining the three PBA teams, Ang paused for a while before telling Taberna, "Baka kung sinabi ko, matatakot ka ... Ang ginagastos sa basketball operations ng San Miguel group, bilyon sa isang taon."
Ang didn't say directly if the P1 billion goes only for the teams' operations, mentioning that the company recently built a state-of-the-art gym at the SMC Food Complex along C-5 road that its teams now use for practices.
"Madami pa 'yan, may construction pa 'yan, may kung ano-ano pa," he said.
Ang continued: "Actually, walang biro, can you imagine noong Covid time, naisip ko 'yan na baka maganda ang timing na itigil ko na kasi [pandemic] naman," Ang said. "Aba, nagbalik kaagad [ang PBA], di ba?"