The PBA board Tuesday gave unanimous approval to the entry of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) as the latest member of the country’s longest running professional basketball league giving an interesting twist to next season’s tournament where the PBA will now have two teams owned by telecommunications mogul Manuel V. Pangilinan.
Meralco’s entry absorbed the franchise of Sta. Lucia Realty for a reported P70 million as well access to the Realtors’ core of players.
At the same time, Meralco said that Ryan Gregorio will be the coach of the team, confirming a report broken by the Manila Bulletin Tuesday.
“I’m confirming that Ryan (Gregorio) will be our coach,” said Ramon Segismundo, Meralco’s Senior VP and Head of the Human Resources and Corporate Services who will also be the team’s governor, after his meeting with the other PBA board members.
Meantime, the league also disclosed that it will return to a three-conference format starting next season in the hope of reliving its glory days.
“It’s a tradition that the PBA has 3 conferences format. It’s been successful with that. We hope we can translate that to more gate attendance and improved TV rating,” said Deputy Commissioner Chito Salud.
San Miguel Corporation, on the other hand, informed the league that Petron – one of the companies under its wing – will replace B-Meg Derby Ace next season.
“Obviously, Ryan is one of the top coaches in the PBA. We underwent a rigorous, systematic process. We arrived at a short list, we thought long and hard about it. We reflected on it, we prayed for it and came up with Ryan.”
Gregorio has a winning pedigree, having won three titles with Purefoods, most recently the previous Philippine Cup.
Among the players Meralco will inherit from Sta. Lucia are Ogie Menor, Pong Escobal, Yousif Aljamal, Fil-Am Chris Ross, Bonbon Custodio, as well as veterans Gabby Espinas, Nelbert Omolon, Nic Belasco, Ali Peek and Marlou Aquino.
“Obviously we have to build on the existing franchise. Our job right now is to strengthen our team, and make the team competitive (for next season),” Segismundo said.
According to Segismundo, he already had initial discussions with Gregorio on what kind of team Meralco will have for the 2011-12 season although nothing is final.
Source: WAYLON GALVEZ | www.mb.com.ph