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PBA: Goodbye, Air21; welcome, NLEX

Commissioner Chito Salud of the PBA announces the three new teams next season of the PBA, two expansion teams Kia Morors and Blackwater, and the acquisition of Air21 by the NLEX Road Warriors during Presscon at PBA Media center.    Photo by Tony Pionilla
Source: Fernandez likely to coach

A few more stuff still need to be ironed out, but Air21 yesterday informed the PBA Board of Governors that Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC) – owners of NLEX – has already purchased the Bert Lina franchise.

In response, the board unanimously gave its approval for the transfer of the PBA franchise from Air21 to NLEX.

“With the approval of Air21’s sale to NLEX by the PBA Board, there were many firsts,” said PBA chairman Ramon Segismundo. “The meeting went smoothly and the decision was unanimous.”

Segismundo also bared that three more companies are “knocking on the PBA’s door.”

Lito Alvarez, a former chairman who represents the Express to the board of governors, confirmed the sale, according to Segismundo, who added a few more details are still to be finalized.

“There’s no problem with that. It’s a sale between two parties and chairman Alvarez has confirmed the sale,” said Rain or Shine’s Mert Mondragon.

There were reports that the two parties were negotiating between a R200 million to R300 million franchise sale. NLEX got approval to form an expansion team, along with Kia Motors and Blackwater Sports, but eventually chose to buy an existing team.

The entry of NLEX, a six-time champion in the PBA D-League, gives telecommunication mogul Manny V. Pangilinan three PBA teams after Talk ’N Text and Meralco.

Pangilinan’s number of teams matches the three teams of San Miguel Corporation, which owns Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, San Mig Super Coffee and San Miguel Beer.

With NLEX’s entry, sources said that Road Warriors mentor Boyet Fernandez is seriously being considered to be the team’s coach in the PBA though TNT assistant coach Jong Uichico is reportedly also being considered.

NLEX president Ramon Fernandez will be the Road Warriors’ governor and board representative. (Waylon Galvez)