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    Three companies knock on PBA door, but board not keen on expansion

    Mar 2, 2021
    PHOTO: Marlo Cueto

    EXPANSION is not on the PBA board's agenda right now, but it's not because of lack of parties interested in putting up new teams.

    League sources bared that at least three companies have reached out to top PBA officials about the possibility of joining the pro league, either as an expansion team or by buying an existing franchise.

    "Meron at least tatlo [na interesado]," said a source, recalling that two inquired about expansion franchises while the other expressed interest in acquiring an intact team.

    All these inquiries, the source warned, were made prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. But he figured nothing has changed for at least one of the interested parties since it is in the food business and still doing well during the lockdown.

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    But the bad news is, multiple sources told SPIN.ph that the league board is not keen on expansion. The matter, in fact, has never been considered or discussed at length during Willie Marcial's time as commissioner.

    A major reason for the board's reluctance, an insider bared, is the lack of success of Terrafirma and Blackwater.

    The last two expansion teams to be accepted by the league in the 2014-2015 season have a combined record of 97-265 (win-loss) and a hold grand total of zero playoff wins. The two have reached the playoffs six times between them.

    As a result, their games have become increasingly difficult to market, both for the television broadcast and live audience, when it was still permitted.

    "Hirap na ang liga na i-schedule mga games," a source said.

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      For the league to even just consider expansion, the board must be absolutely convinced that parity will be achievable if the membership increases from the current 12 teams to either 14 of 15 as suggested by NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.

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      But all is not lost.

      Insiders said top league officials are cognizant of the points raised by Guiao when he called for the league's expansion to 15 teams, from the huge surplus of unemployed players to the multiple platforms available for the broadcast of league games.

      [See Guiao says it's high time the PBA expands to 15 teams]

      If someone influential can make the push, one source said expansion can be put on the agenda when the PBA board holds its annual planning session from March 8 to 10, just before the annual rookie draft.

      For that process to begin, PBA officials will have to revisit the companies that have expressed interest in joining the league to see if they're still interested.

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        But for now, the league is addressing the huge imbalance between unattached players and available jobs in the PBA by holding a 3x3 tournament, which will make its debut in the coming season.

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        Officials said PBA teams will be allowed to sign as many as five new players each for the 3x3 league, opening dozens of jobs for free agents.

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        PHOTO: Marlo Cueto
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