10 April 2014

"3 Applied and 3 Approved"

Commissioner Chito Salud
PBA Inquirer, 10 April 2014

"Three applied. Three were recommended for approval. Three were approved."

Those were the words of PBA Commissioner Chito Salud after the four-hour Board meeting on 10 April 2014 at the PBA Office in Libis, as the world’s second-oldest professional basketball league is set to welcome three new squads when its 40th season rolls on in October.

"This is a first for us," Salud said. "I think this is a momentous occasion for the PBA. Three new teams, three expansion teams, in time for our 40th season. Nothing can be more exciting than that."

Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, represented by NLEX head Ramoncito Fernandez, Ever Bilena Cosmetics Inc. owner and president Dioceldo Sy, and Columbian Autocar Corporation president Ginia Domingo representing Kia Motors were all present in the Board meeting, and were all smiles after the meeting.

"On the side, we will be sending them our formal notice. They have been formally and verbally notified of their acceptance," Salud said. "We’re sending them the formal acceptance of their membership within the week, and we will expect their formal reply at the soonest possible time, although as I understand, Ever Bilena Cosmetics, Inc., has already signified its acceptance of the approval of the Board."

Salud said that the members of the Board of Governors were unanimous in their decision to accept the three expansion teams, saying, "The Board saw that each of the applicants was liquid, profitable, and would add value to the league."

Their admission to the league came with a P100 million franchise fee. The new members are provided with the voting powers in the Board as full-pledged members, "except in the case of MPIC, which will be considered as the third team of the MVP group. It can vote only on policy matters, but not on game-related matters, which is also the status of the third team of the San Miguel group which is Purefoods (San Mig Coffee)," Salud said.

In terms of the team composition, Salud shot down the idea of direct hires, saying, "In as much as we wanted to give direct hires, we could not because we wanted to treat all the applicants evenly."

"Only the two of the three applicants have existing teams in the D-League, so we could not, even if we wanted to, give the teams direct hires. Kia doesn’t have an existing team in the D-League."

An expansion draft is set to happen right after the end of the season, most probably by mid-July.

"The (current) teams have 14 players in their rosters, and then they have two extra players that are restricted free agents. The teams have decided to let go of the two players in excess of their 14, which will make up at around 25 active players in the PBA," Salud explained. "And we have gathered around 40 veteran free agents, so that makes a total of 65 players to choose from. And then, of course, you have the rookie free agents, the rookies that have not been signed up."

"We still have to wait after the end of the season because the teams will choose which 14 they will keep, and release the two who will go to the expansion draft," he added.

The Commissioner also granted the three teams the 11th to 13th pick in the first round of the next PBA Draft, but the order will be determined by lottery.

In terms of the schedule, Salud said that the league will still stick to the three-conference format to be played for ten-and-a-half months.

"It would be a minimum of four game days a week, most probably five. We have to rest and the players have to rest," Salud said. (RL)

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