NLEX hopes to complete its acquisition of an existing PBA franchise by the end of the month, with officials confirming that it has "agreed in principle" for a sale with one ballclub.
Interviewed on the popular television newscast PTV Sports, NLEX Road Warriors team manager Ronald Dulatre declined to identify which team they are in the process of buying, saying they will inform PBA commissioner Chito Salud once the fine points of the deal have been ironed out.
“Right now, we’re focusing na lang 'dun sa isa (na team),” said Dulatre. “With respect dun sa target team namin, we’ll just wait for their last game sa Governors Cup para naman maganda 'yung result.”
Once the sale is complete, Dulatre, team manager of NLEX's six-time champion team in the D-League, said the company will seek the approval of the board for its entry in the league.
Although NLEX's application for an expansion franchise has been approved by the league board, its acquisition of an existing PBA team will still go through a vote by the body.
“We need to inform kasi Commissioner Salud of the development kasi ibang mode raw ito ng entry sa PBA. Hindi namin pwedeng i-apply yung approval sa amin ng board as an expansion (team),” said Dulatre.
“So bale, dalawa na lang 'yung tutuloy na expansion. With NLEX, pinili namin to enter the PBA through an acquisition of an existing franchise,” he added.
Asked if the limited concessions given by the PBA board to the three expansion teams pushed NLEX to take a different route to the league, Dulatre was straight-forward.
“Hindi naman. Pero bitin kasi kami sa ibinigay na concessions," he said.
"When we submitted our reason for application, we (said we) intend to form an exciting and competitive PBA team,” he added. “At hindi namin ma-a-achieve yung mission namin na 'yun kung wala kaming direct hire (privileges). 'Yun ang feeling namin.”
Even if the NLEX move will require the approval of the board, Dulatre expressed optimism that NLEX will make it to the league's upcoming 40th season, which is tentatively set to open on October 18.
“We’re confident naman na tatanggapin kami ng board, na makakalaro kami next season. Hinihintay lang naman namin 'yung campaign ng team na binibili namin. Tapos we’ll finalize the sale,” he said while reiterating a three-week timeframe for the sale to be officially announced.
And since they are looking to come up with a competitive roster when they debut in the PBA, Dulatre was asked if the team they are buying is competitive enough.
“Yes, mas competitive yun kaysa sa kung mag-e-expansion kami. Pang Top 10 to be safe,” he jested.
So far, two teams are rumored to be negotiating with NLEX.
Air21 governor Lito Alvarez has confirmed to Spin.ph recently how officials of Metro Pacific Investments offered to buy the Bert Lina-owned franchise for ‘a little over P100 million."