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PBA: Uytengsu opposes Hapee’s application

Wilfred UytengsuAlaska owner Wilfred Uytengsu said he opposes the idea of having another expansion team in the PBA next season, dampening the application of Hapee Toothpaste which had hoped to have an easy passage as a PBA member.

Uytengsu, whose Alaska is one of the oldest members of the PBA, said the league’s focus should center on strengthening the league before it accepts another franchise.

“As a team owner, I am not in favor of future expansion at the moment,” Uytengsu said in a text message when asked for his comment yesterday.

Officials of Rain or Shine and Blackwater had earlier expressed support for Hapee’s entry to the PBA but Uytengsu had little enthusiasm for adding a 13th member to the league.

“The league needs to digest the two new teams and we need to see better parity. Furthermore, the exposure amongst the 12 teams has already been diluted,” said Uytengsu, one of the more outspoken owners of the PBA. “I would think the focus is on strengthening the league first before further expansion.”

The PBA is coming off a year in which it accepted two expansion ballclubs in former PBA D-League champion Blackwater and Kia, bringing the number of participants to a record 12 teams.

Hapee owner Cecilio Pedro had already submitted a letter of intent to the PBA Office last Tuesday.

Rain or Shine and Blackwater had embraced the move of their former rival in the now-defunct Philippine Basketball League.

ROS co-owner Raymond Yu said Hapee’s entry would “add great value to the league”.

PBA Chairman Pato Gregorio of Talk ‘N Text said he will discuss the application with fellow league governors before any action is taken.

“We have to make sure expectations are aligned before we proceed. Interest to join the league is always welcome. It is just a matter of timing,” said Gregorio. (Waylon Galvez)