NLEX gets extension to pay PBA franchise
MANILA, Philippines—NLEX, one of the PBA’s three expansion teams next season, is dead-set on making the jump with a core that could contend right away.
The team is also interested in pursuing the acquisition of an old franchise.
Just three days after winning a sixth PBA D-League title, NLEX Friday wrote—and got the approval of—league commissioner Chito Salud for a second extension, to June 16, in paying its franchise fee of P100 million.
In the letter, Ramoncito Fernandez, the president and CEO of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., said: “We are considering two options to join the PBA, 1—to pursue our expansion, or 2—to buy an existing franchise.”
Ever Bilena and KIA Motors Philippines, the other two expansion clubs, have already paid their respective franchise fees.
NLEX has held back because it wants to be able to form a competitive team right away and feels that it cannot do so with only the expansion pool and free agency as its options for player recruitment.
Under the expansion approval granted by the PBA board, NLEX, Ever Bilena and KIA can form their teams through the Rookie Draft, where they will have the 11th, 12th and 13th picks overall, and so forth, and then negotiating with unrestricted free agents.
The current teams will also protect 12 players from their lineups before a blind draft where the three expansion teams can pick from.
But the letter sent to Salud, which was also signed by Jose Ma. K. Lim, the president and CEO of Metro Pacific Investments, Inc., clearly expressed NLEX’s intention to join but that it would like to explore the purchase of an old franchise first.
There are no old clubs currently up for sale in the PBA, and if NLEX does start talks with an existing franchise in order to buy it, the team would have to go through the process of getting the approval of the board.