MANILA, Philippines - Hopes are high for the NLEX Warriors when they begin their ambitious PBA journey in October.
Team representative Allan Gregorio yesterday said management is pulling out all the stops to ensure a smooth ride for the team in the PBA.
“In six conferences or two years, NLEX has to be a very competitive team in the PBA,” said Gregorio during the PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
It may be a goal too high for a new PBA team but Gregorio said being “very competitive” does not necessarily mean winning a title.
“Two years is short because other new teams think of three to four years para malaman ang lakas ng koponan nila,” he said.
Yet, it remains as the NLEX goal in the PBA.
Gregorio said NLEX, which bought the Air 21 franchise, is now forming the team, hopefully bannered by the core of Air 21 and the NLEX squad in the D-League.
The team is looking at Air 21 stars Asi Taulava, Mark Cardona and Aldrech Ramos to lead the team in its first PBA season starting in October.
Gregorio said also up for composition is the coaching staff.
Coach Franz Pumaren has a live contract with Air 21 until Aug. 31 but there’s no certainty whether the former La Salle coach will be part of the NLEX team.
Boyet Fernandez, which steered NLEX to six titles in seven conferences in the D-League, is high on the list of possible choices.
Everything is under evaluation but Gregorio cited Fernandez’ very high batting average for NLEX.
“You don’t fix something that ain’t broke,” he said.
“NLEX is not entering the PBA just to be beaten black and blue,” added Gregorio, who’s part of the Air 21 coaching staff but may end up with a management post at NLEX.
Three new teams will debut in the PBA, including Kia Motors, Blackwater and NLEX, raising the number of teams to 12, the most ever in PBA history.
Gregorio graced the forum on behalf of NLEX president Rodrigo Franco and its representative to the PBA board, Ramoncito Fernandez.
NLEX belongs to the group of Manny V. Pangilinan which also owns the Talk N Text and Meralco franchises in the PBA.
Air 21, headed by Bert Lina, sold its franchise to NLEX and bid goodbye to the PBA after 12 years of participation, originally under the banner of FedEx.
Gregorio said the MVP Group may tap Indomie Instant Noodles or Philex Mining to take the place of NLEX in the D-League.