New chair Gregorio bats for bigger ‘PBA Asia’ league
INCHEON, South Korea—On the eve of his first official act as new PBA chair, Talk ‘N Text governor Patrick Gregorio could not help but dream big. As in, continent-sized huge.
“We’re looking at ‘PBA Asia’ as a way of expanding our brand across the continent,” said Gregorio, who is here as part of the boxing delegation to the 17th Asian Games.
Gregorio wants to expand the roster of PBA players to Asian standouts not only as a means to breach international markets as far as the PBA teams are concerned, but to open the eyes of Filipino fans to other brands of basketball.
“It just makes sense to think globally,” Gregorio said. “In an age when we’re preparing for the Asean integration and when everybody’s so interconnected, the PBA has to learn to keep up with the times.”
Gregorio is hoping he can muster enough support from the board to push through with his plans when he meets the members on Tuesday in Seoul to plot the direction the league will take for the coming calendar year.
According to Gregorio, the PBA could first test the waters by hiring one Asian player per team, “not as an import,” and then see the reaction it will get.
“Think of it this way: If we have a Korean player here, what would stop the likes of Samsung, Kia, from investing in the PBA,” he said.
Gregorio hopes that the league can raise the number of Asian players per roster in time with its planned expansion to at least 16 teams.
The league recently accepted NLEX, Blackwater and KIA Motors as new members of what is now a 12-team roster and is thinking of adding at least two more next season.
Hapee Toothpaste and the SM Group of Companies have signified serious intention to join the league.
League commissioner Chito Salud is also here and will start doing “the rounds” with team representatives concerning the league’s continued support to the Gilas Pilipinas program.
“I will do a round of consultations with team owners and express gratitude for their support and share my views, as well as solicit theirs,” he said. With a report from Musong R. Castillo
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