PBA commissioner Chito Salud sees the Sy family's foray into the D-League by way of the Banco de Oro team as a step closer to joining the other heavyweights of Philippine business in the pro league.
The family that owns the SM Group of Companies marked its first foray into the commercial basketball scene by fielding a team in the D-League which will be made up of players from UAAP powerhouse National University and carry the colors of Banco de Oro.
[For full story, see Sy family on PBA doorstep with move to field NU Bulldogs in D-League]
Salud hopes the move could bring the Sys closer to possibly fielding a team in the PBA to pit against franchises owned by the likes of San Miguel Corp. led by Ramon S. Ang, the PLDT group of Manny V. Pangilinan, and Alaska owned by Wilfred Uytengsu.
“I can see this as a step towards possibly considering membership in the PBA in the near future,” said Salud after Banco de Oro participated its first D-League function on Thursday by way of the rookie draft.
Salud said he believes the SM Group of Companies has what it takes to become one of the top players in Philippine sports, considering the gains made by National University in the varsity scene and the Mall of Asia Arena's rise as the top venue of sports events.
The Sys were also behind the staging of the first NBA preseason game in the country between the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers in October.
“Alam naman natin how they built the Mall of Asia Area. Ang ganda ng MOA ngayon. Tapos alam natin 'yung NU under their care na rin yan,” said Salud.
“SM Group of Companies has a collegiate team, and now they've fielded a team na sa D-League. What’s the logical next step? Let’s give them time,” the commissioner added with a smile.
The Sys have revitalized a once moribund NU sports program that saw the school rise as a force to be reckoned with not only in men's basketball but also in indoor and beach volleyball as well as in cheerdance, where the Bulldogs lifted a first-ever trophy on Sunday.
Banco De Oro team manager Fullton Su had earlier told Spin.ph that NU’s participation in the D-League is primarily aimed at keeping the collegiate team sharp during the UAAP offseason.
But at the same, Su said he is not closing the door on a possible move to the PBA.
“Pakiramdaman muna kami rito,” said Su, a family friend of the Sys. “Play it by ear muna kami as to what will happen in our campaign. This is our first venture into commercial sports."