Despite the uncertainty of the team, it is business as usual for Barako Bull as the Energy had their practice session yesterday at the Green Meadows in preparation for the Commissioner’s Cup set to start February 10.
The mild-mannered head coach who was appointed by management to call the shots for the controversial franchise went on to comment with the regards to reports the team has been purchased by Phoenix Fuel.
“I really don’t know,” said Banal. “Nobody’s talking to us and nobody’s saying something to the team. For me, I really don’t what’s the plan, or if there is a plan regarding that. So we’ll just continue what we are doing.”
“We just prepare for the next conference. That’s the only thing we can do, for me and the coaching staff, we need to prepare the players. I can only speak on things that I have control, other than that, I don’t know anything,” added Banal.
Various sources confirmed last Thursday that Phoenix Fuel – an independent oil company based in Davao City – was able to finally strike a deal to purchase the cash-strapped franchise five years after the two sides had an initial agreement.
In 2011, Barako Bull approved the sale of its franchise to Phoenix but the PBA Board turned down the transfer of franchise citing conflict with a rival company since San Miguel Corporation (SMC) opted to use its own brand Petron.
The board instead accepted another decision of Barako Bull management headed by George Chua to enter a deal with Linaheim Group of businessman – and current customs chief – Bert Lina, who acquired a 51 percent share of Barakop Bull for P50 million.
To finalize the latest deal between Barako Bull and Phoenix, they need the board approval via two-third vote, or eight out of 12 teams.
Regardless if the transfer from Barako Bull to Phoenix pushes through this season – or in the next – Banal said he’s not thinking about that at the moment since his contract with Barako Bull is up until the end of the season.
The last time a company purchased an existing franchise was when NLEX purchased Air21 – owned by Lina – for P100 million. The amount could be in that range – or probably more – in the Barako Bull and Phoenix deal.