24 June 2014

Probably A Wise Move for NLEX or Is It?

NLEX Road Warriors
If you have been following the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) through Twitter, then you would have heard their announcement that NLEX will no longer enter the league as an expansion team.

Aside from NLEX, Blackwater and Team Kia had earlier expressed and been approved to join the party next season. However, not a lot of concessions were thrown their way.

"Applicant team MPIC-NLEX today informed the PBA Office of the Commissioner that it has decided to enter the league by acquiring an existing franchise, in lieu of entering the league as an expansion team," the statement read.

"They noted that they are in the process of finalizing the acquisition of the current member-ballclub and will update the league as to further developments within a reasonable period after the last game of the member-team in the ongoing Governors' Cup," it continued. "While the identity of the franchise sought to be acquired was not disclosed, MPIC-NLEX understands that the intended acquisition would have to undergo another round of approval by the Board of Governors."

Air 21 Express has already made a public statement confirming the suspicion that their franchise is being eyed by NLEX and that negotiation to acquire it has already started.

This could be a wise move on the part of NLEX since relying solely on players from the expansion draft and rookie pool to form a competitive team is a shortest way to elimination, conference after conference after conference. By buying a Air 21 Express, NLEX will get to keep players under contract, including the number three pick in the upcoming rookie draft.

Some of the players that will be made available to NLEX are the resurgent Asi Taulava, an All-Star level player in Joseph Yeo, an X-factor in Sean Anthony, a vastly improving Aldrech Ramos, and a slew of other veterans such as Macmac Cardona, Mark Borboran, and Jonas Villanueva.

If the Road Warriors play their cards right, they may also end up with either Ray Parks Jr., Chris Banchero or Stanley Pringle.

The question is, are the Air 21 players willing to play for the ball club owned by the same company that traded them a few seasons ago? Taulava, for instance, has been been with Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters and Meralco Bolts and every PBA follower know that he left those teams in not exactly good terms. Both teams are owned by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP).

The 6'9" behemoth could always ask Lito Alvarez, a long time team governor and team manager of Air21, to trade him before they sell the franchise as a favour for helping the team reach the semi-final round last conference, but will NLEX let the best-player-like numbers of Asi go to another team?

Several Express players have played for the MVP teams in the past. These include Sean Anthony, Mac Cardona, Eloy Poligrates, Mark Borboran and Ogie Menor, not to mention Taulava. But they were also given up later on when they didn't create much of an impact, save for Cardona.

Another question that begs an answer is what will happen to coach Franz Pumaren when the team is owned by NLEX? Will he share the coaching chores with several top-notch coaches in the stable of MVP, which includes Jong Uichico, Nash Racela, Ronnie Magsanoc and Boyet Fernande? Will Pumaren be included in the sale or would they not be part of the package, with Air 21 absorbing the two months remaining in their contracts? Will this impact in the market price of the Express?

So many questions to asked, which means the drama and saga of both players and teams will probably turn, the otherwise boring PBA games that favor San Miguel Corporation (SMC) teams, more exciting.

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