PBA: Air21 franchise officially sold to NLEX
MANILA, Philippines - From 3 new expansion teams, there will now only be two.
Atty. Chito Salud, Commissioner of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), announced Thursday, June 26 the sale of the Airfreight 2100 Inc. franchise (Air21 Express) to the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (NLEX Road Warriors), confirming swirling rumors in the past week.
"I am pleased to announce that today the PBA's Board of Governors approved unanimously the assignment, transfer and sale of the rights over an existing member team to MPIC and NLEX," Salud said in a short press conference right before Tuesday night's Game 4 of the semifinals series between the Alaska Aces and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
"Therefore, for the next season, the PBA will be having two expansion teams - Blackwater Sports and team KIA and one other new team taking over the said franchise of Airfreight 2100 Inc., NLEX [Road] Warriors."
Salud, however, refused to divulge details on the price agreed upon for the sale.
"Well, I am not in the position to disclose to you the acquisition cost at this time because the parties are scheduled to submit the deed of assignment and transfer of the said franchise within the next couple of days if not by early next week."
With the acquisition, NLEX will no longer go through the dispersal draft on July 18, which is required for the new franchises entering the league in order to build a team.
According to Salud, all current Air21 players will be acquired by NLEX and the composition of the coaching staff will be "left to the discretion of the new member team."
"Now we are definite and we are certain that there would be two participants in the said expansion draft," Salud said.
Initial rumors about the sale emerged right before the Express wrapped up their season in the current Governors' Cup, where they were eventually booted out by the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the quarterfinals.
Salud also clarified the distinction between Air21 and the Barako Bull Energy, saying that Barako is owned by an entirely different franchise - the Linaheim Corporate Services Inc. Linaheim and Airfreight 2100 are both owned by Bert Lina. - Rappler.com