Barako Coffee, Photokina Marketing’s Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) franchise, is willing to sell its spot in Asia’s first play-for-pay league according to board representative Raffy Casiao.
"Is our franchise for sale, well, if one company would avail it for a reasonable price, why not," Casiao told GMANews.TV.
It’s been no secret in the league that Barako Coffee is financially challenged for several years now. And talks about its franchise sale have been swirling around even when the team keeps on winning championships.
The Masters has been feeling the economic pinch for quite some time now and has traded away marquee players one after another through the years. Among them include Kerby Raymundo, Willie Miller, Lordy Tugade, Junthy Valenzuela, Enrico Villanueva, Mick Pennisi, Cyrus Baguio, Larry Fonacier and Celino Cruz, all members of their champion squads from 2001 until 2006.
But Harbour Centre’s entry could turn things around for Barako in the coming PBA Fiesta Conference.
Barako Coffee made a request to the PBA board to allow Harbour Centre to be its partner. The request needs the PBA board’s approval as co-branding is only allowed for regular member teams to maximize marketing exposure of its other existing brands.
Although Barako and Harbour are different entities, they were allowed by the PBA board to become co-brands for the Fiesta Conference provided that Photokina Marketing would still call the shots for the team.
"It was Boss George Chua who approached Mikee Romero and asked him to become the team’s sponsor for the Fiesta Conference. We proposed it to the board and we got their approval provided that we comply with certain requirements," said Casiao.
But is Barako’s new partnership with Harbour a sign that the Masters are about to sell its franchise? Is Barako really for sale?
"Harbour Centre is just a sponsor for our team for the coming Fiesta Conference and I would like to clarify that we are still running the affairs of the basketball team and not the group of Mikee Romero," said Casiao.
Photokina company came as an expansion squad in 2000. The price of joining the PBA at that time was worth P63-million. Aside from this, the team was allowed to elevate members of their champion squad in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL).
Lordy Tugade, Davonn Harp, Jimwell Torion and Junthy Valenzuela were among the players elevated by the Photokina franchise when they entered the PBA. The squad also secured the rights on Allan Caidic, who opted to retire and accepted Barangay Ginebra’s coaching job.
Not one, but two teams for sale
Whether Barako Coffee will stay in the league at the end of the Fiesta Conference or find another company taking over its franchise remains to be seen. The PBA has signified intentions of expanding participating squads from 10 to 12 teams.
"Whether the timing is good or not remains to be seen," added Casiao on the league’s expansion plan.
While Barako Coffee has at least made it open to the public about its present situation, another squad has contemplated on putting its franchise on sale.
A top executive of the league, who requested anonymity, told GMANews.TV that another PBA team is now mulling the possibility of selling its franchise and one of the top companies in the land has expressed interest on acquiring it.
"That’s why this team wants to remain competitive because they want to keep the high value once it will be sold," said the source.. “This will give them a good reason to sell its franchise at a competitive price because they still have good materials on their squad." – Rey Joble, GMANews.TV