TOKYO – An expanded D-League and the creation of a welfare fund for retired players top a list of long-term plans envisioned by the PBA board of governors for the next three to five years.
Also in the horizon are the building of a small-scale sports academy that would serve as training and rehab facility for athletes, a PBA women’s league, and the accommodation of two more expansion teams.
“These are all included in the PBA’s long view,” said league CEO Chito Salud, who distinguished the projected welfare fund from the existing players trust fund “which is solely and exclusively for educational purposes.”
The welfare fund, Salud said, aims to “help subsidize retired players’ health care.” Seed money for the fund still needs to be obtained, according to the former PBA commissioner.
Chito Narvasa, the incoming PBA commissioner, meanwhile, will spearhead an ambitious project to expand the D-League throughout the country starting August next year, with tournaments held in Cebu, Davao and Laoag City in Ilocos Norte.
No less than 18 teams could be involved in the nationwide PBA D-League, six each from the three regions.
Also on the table for 2016 is the formation of a PBA women’s league patterned after the WNBA although details remain under wraps at present.
The concept of “embarking on a sports academy, which would double as a training, residential and rehab facility,” aside from being a source of revenue for the league, will undergo a feasibility study to determine its viability.
Lastly, based on the performance of second-year teams Kia Motors (known later as Mahindra Defenders) and Blackwater Elite, the PBA will make a decision on whether to accept two more expansion teams in the near future.
Two companies, Hapee Toothpaste and Racal Motors, have expressed their intentions to join the PBA, but the league governors are opting to wait and see if Kia and Blackwater would be strong enough to compete at a higher level before further adding two more teams in the expansion pool.
Kia, under playing-coach Manny Pacquiao, has made some strides in its rookie season, especially in the Governors’ Cup. But Blackwater continues to grope for a head start, with both teams still the subject of a PBA-aided handicapping system involving imports to narrow the gap between them and the middle-tier teams in the league.