23 January 2016

Will Phoenix Petroleum Built Their Team Honestly?

Phoenix Petroleum
The sale of the Barako Bull franchise has been finalized. All members of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) board has approved the transaction last 20 January 2016. The buyer and the new member of the PBA league is Phoenix Petroleum.

The decision closed the book on a team that was hounded by controversy the past couple of years and was also under fire for questionable trades and alleged collusion with other ball clubs, specifically the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) teams

The pro league announced the sale at the end of a special board meeting where chairman and acting president and CEO Robert Non of SMC bared that all existing players and coaches under contract with Barako will be absorbed by the new team owners.

Owners of Phoenix will now be invited to a regular board meeting on 28 January to formalize the sale, Non added.

The entry of the Mindanao-based oil company comes five years after its first attempt to join the pro league with a planned acquisition of a franchise solely owned by George Chua failed to get a majority vote from the board.

The downside of buying the Barako franchise is that Phoenix won't have any concessions with regard to elevation of amateur players or draft picks. They simply retained the lineup and all other assets that Barako currently possesses.

Barako lost their first round pick next season via the Ginebra trade but I'm not sure if they have other draft picks available.

According to sources within SMC, there's no link between Phoenix and the conglomerate. They're considered as competitors of the Petron brand, which means that Petron won't be able to come back to the league unless Phoenix rebrands itself with another name from a different industry or if they disband. It appears that SMB has relented and will retain its flagship brand from here on.

However, how Phoenix will act as a PBA team is still a question.

Will they be an independent team like ROS or Alaska? Will they take risks and give up marquee players and draft picks in order to make themselves immediately competitive, just like Mahindra and Blackwater? If so, what team or teams will they be dealing with most often?

It's not like Phoenix is an incompetent team at this stage because they have enough in their roster to make it to the QF round at least. But if there are prior arrangements that Phoenix made with Barako regarding trading this player to another team, then nobody knows if they are still valid.

The true colors of Phoenix Petroleum will become clearer in the coming months. Many are hoping that they remain independent and build their team honestly. It doesn't matter if they give up picks along the way, so long as they get quality players in return that can make them stronger in the short term.

They will probably gain respect from disenfranchised PBA fans if they opt to build their team the Rain or Shine way - not easy and definitely longer in tenure, but at least, they won't be accused of being farm teams of other PBA squads.

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