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PBA tackles Barako sale

The sale of the cash-strapped franchise Barako Bull to oil company Phoenix Fuel will be the main topic when the PBA Board convenes today at the PBA Commissioner’s Office in Libis, Quezon City.

At least two reliable sources confirmed the ‘special’ meeting among the team governors to discuss the franchise sale – the first time that the board will open the sensitive subject that has hounded the team since 2010.

PBA board chairman Robert Non of San Miguel Beer will preside over the meeting scheduled at 11 a.m.

There are no details available on whether the board would take swift action on the reported purchase that first came out in an article by The Bulletin last Friday. For the sale or transfer of franchise to get approval, it requires a two-third vote or eight out of the 12 member teams in the pro league.

This is not the first time that Phoenix is knocking on the PBA door.

Back in 2011, Barako Bull owner George Chua reportedly agreed in principle to sell his franchise to the Davao-based company, which is engaged in the retailing of gasoline, diesel and related products.

The board, however, rejected the sale after San Miguel Corporation cited a league rule that prevents the PBA from accepting a firm that competes with a brand of its member teams. At that time, San Miguel Beer opted to change its name as it carried the colors of Petron Blaze for the 2011-12 Season.

The team reverted back to its old SMB name prior to the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup.

Technically, Barako Bull is owned by the Linaheim Corporate Services, headed by current customs chief Bert Lina, who in 2011 purchased a 51 percent share of the franchise from Chua’s Photokina Marketing worth P50 million.

Lina’s other team – Air21 – was sold to Manny V. Pangilinan’s North Luzon Expressway or NLEX P100 million, which could very well be the same amount – or more – that Phoenix had to shell out to complete with the Barako Bull deal.

Ironically, SMC, according to PBA sources, was at the center in this current negotiation for Phoenix to purchase Barako Bull. It’s an “open-secret” that SMC is spending for Barako Bull in retaining the team coached by Koy Banal.