PBA Developmental League draws 14 teams, 3 PBL squads jump ship
Agri-Nature Inc./FCA, Pharex, and Cobra Energy Drink, squads which have competed in the PBL for several years now, have decided to move to the D-League.
The D-League has already attracted a total of 14 teams, with Café France, Cebuana Lhuillier and Freego Jeans becoming the latest participants in this event patterned after the National Basketball Association Development League (NBDL) in the United States.
The league will hold its opening ceremonies on March 12 at The Arena in San Juan.
Bernard Yang, a long-time team manager of Hapee Toothpaste in the PBL, confirmed that Café France will bring in the core of the Centro Escolar University Scorpions. The team is a regular competitor in the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities.
Yang was asked by Café France management to help form the team.
“We’re helping the CEU sports program, and the owner of Café France is a good friend, so they asked for my help," said Yang. “Pero nagpaalam naman ako sa bossing namin sa Hapee if puwede akong tumulong sa Café France, and he agreed."
Yang represented Hapee during the team representatives’ meeting last week. The company, which backed the 2002 all-pro national cage team to the Busan Asian Games, decided not to join this season.
“Gusto muna sigurong tingnan if the D-League will be a success," said Yang.
Cebuana Lhuillier, also a former backer of the national men’s basketball team for several years and a prominent fixture in local caging, decided to make a comeback via the D-League.
The company, which also supports local softball and the tennis team to the Davis Cup event, backed the all-amateur men’s basketball team which won the gold medal in the 2003 Southeast Asian Games.
“We have always supported grassroots development in sports. Also, this is in line with our partnership with Spirit Sports Program, whose vision is to serve as a gateway for the players to find their future in sports. We discussed this with Commissioner Salud and agreed to start with the D-League first and probably look at the program down the road," said Cebuana Lhuillier boss man Jean Henri Lhuillier.
Freego Jeans, former outfitter of Air21 in the PBA, will participate as an independent member and not as an affiliate of the Express, according to PBA commissioner Atty. Chito Salud.
“Stand-alone — that’s the status of Freego’s participation," said Salud, who added that all team representatives of the D-League will gather for the first team members’ meeting on Monday, Feb. 21, 2 p.m. at the PBA Office in Libis, Quezon City.
Regular competing teams will need to pay P300,000 to join the tournament, while an affiliate member of a mainstay PBA squad will only need to shell out half of the required entry fee.
PBA teams, which will form its farm squads in the D-League, will get in free of charge.
Three teams with existing PBA squads – Maynilad and Metro Paficic Tollways, which are both controlled by businessman/sportsman Manuel V. Pangilinan, and Powerade Tigers-University of the Philippines of Coca-Cola – have fielded in their respective farm squads in this tournament open for players 17 to 26 years old.
Completing the 14-team cast of the D-League are Black Water/ Ever Bilena, City of Antipolo, Handyfix/Max Bond, Pacific Pipes, and PC Gilmore.
These teams signified their intention to join the new league by sending their letters of intent before the 5 p.m. deadline Monday. The PBA gave a day of extension to other teams, with Café France, Cebuana Lhuillier and Freego coming in at the last minute. - KY, GMA News