Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner Willie Marcial is expecting to see 13 ball clubs in the Governors’ Cup next season.
The field presently has 12, although it could be reduced depending on how the negotiations between Alaska and potential buyers of its franchise will go through now that the storied organization has bid goodbye after 36 years.
Should it materialize and keep the league’s composition intact, the 13th team are the Bay Area Dragons, seeded by the East Asia Super League (EASL).
“I think it will be 12 to 13,” said the league chieftain during Tuesday’s virtual press conference hosted by the EASL.
“It depends on the negotiations with Alaska. I think 13 teams will compete in the Governors’ Cup.”
The Dragons were created with the support of the Hong Kong Basketball Association (HKBA) and FIBA to represent Greater China in EASL games.
Its roster will be a combination of top free agents from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Macau, and Chinese Taipei for its local players. And like all EASL teams, the club will also have one Asian import and two foreign imports.
The Dragons will play and live in Metro Manila. Games will be held either at the SMART Araneta Coliseum or at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Marcial said that it is a ‘great opportunity’ for Asia’s pioneering pro league to welcome another guest team, like what they’ve done previously.
The last time that the PBA had foreign teams was in 2004 when the UBC Thunderbirds from Canada and American side U.S. Mail and More Pro-Am Selection saw action in the Fiesta Conference.
“This is a great opportunity for the PBA. With the Dragons competing in the PBA, hindi lang sa income, it’s also awareness and additional fans — maybe the Chinese community will watch the PBA,” he offered.
“So, it’s a big opportunity. And I just want to thank EASL for joining the PBA in the Governors’ Cup. It’s a plus factor for the PBA,” he added.
Marcial added that the Dragons are also eligible to compete for a championship. Only one guest team has won a PBA title in the past, when the Northern Consolidated national team ruled the 1985 Reinforced Conference.
“Yes,” said the fifth-year league commish in the presser headed by EASL officials, led by CEO Matt Beyer.
“They can be champions.”