MANILA, Philippines – Blackwater has taken its first steps towards joining the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) after Ever Bilena chairman Dioceldo Sy on Friday submitted a letter of intent to buy a new franchise to the league.
Joaquin Henson of The Philippine Star reported that Sy’s application will be tackled when the PBA Board of Governors meets on March 6.
But Sy, his brother Silliman, and business associate Wilbert Loa have already met with PBA chairman Ramon Segismundo, PBA Commissioner Chito Salud, basketball operations director Rickie Santos and media bureau chief Willie Marcial to discuss the move.
“I’m hoping we will be the 11th franchise,” Sy told Henson. “I don’t know if it’s a done deal, but we’ll know after the PBA Board meeting.”
A new franchise needs eight of 10 votes from the PBA Board to be approved, according to Segismundo.
“I’ve been thinking about making this move for a long time,” Sy admitted. “Now, I think the time is right.”
Sy will be celebrating his 56th birthday on March 6 and he said it will be his “best birthday gift ever” if the PBA accepts their application.
“This is a dream come true for me, if ever,” he said.
Sy has bankrolled teams that have won championships in the PBL, the WPBL and the PBA D-League.
“Now, I feel it’s time to join the PBA. At first, I explored the possibility of co-branding and teaming up with an existing PBA franchise, like Barako Bull,” he explained. “But eventually, I decided to go independent, to buy a new franchise.”
Sy told Henson that if their application is approved, they will propose a three-year payment scheme to the PBA for the P100-million franchise fee, wherein they will pay a down payment of P30 million and settle the balance in the next three years.
He also revealed that it will likely take three years before his team can become competitive enough to contend for a championship.
“It will take at least three years to build up, and once we’ve settled our financial obligations, we should be ready to go all out,” he said.
Plans are still being worked out as to how Blackwater will build its team, although Sy is considering bringing in some of their players from the D-League. An expansion draft is also possible.
Sy has tabbed Leo Isaac as the coach of Blackwater, with his brother Silliman as their representative to the PBA Board.