Sad Ending to a Promising Start for the Smart Gilas Pilipinas
The possibility of telecommunications tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan joining the Sacramento Kings in the near future gained positive feedback after his group met some officials of the city the other day in San Francisco.
But in a statement, Pangilinan, “upon the encouragement of the city of Sacramento” met the city officials.
The Sacramento Mayor is former NBA superstar Kevin Johnson.
“The purpose was to explore the possibility of forming an investors’ group which may be interested in investing in the SK,” said Pangilinan, who owns several businesses in the country as well as in Hong Kong.
The meeting took place on Tuesday, and Pangilinan’s group was accompanied by former Sacramento King Chris Webber, who recently visited the country as part of a group that played against the PBA players in an exhibition game.
The Maloof family, led by brothers Joe and Gavin, which has 80 percent share of the NBA franchise, has agreed to stay in Sacramento for one more season, delaying their plan to transfer to nearby Anaheim, California.
Two US-based female brokers – one a Filipina marketing specialist from Cincinnati and the other an American financial analyst with an investment bank
The brokers were in Manila two weeks ago to confer with Pangilinan on an offer to buy up to 80 percent of the team owned by the Maloof family. Pangilinan was reportedly with Maynilad president Ricky Vargas, MVP Sports Foundation president and Meralco senior vice president Al Panlilio, Maynilad senior vice president Patrick Gregorio and Talk ‘N’ Text coach Chot Reyes when he met the brokers at the PLDT building in Makati.
A source close to the brokers said the amount of $250 million was mentioned as “a possible opening bid to get the ball rolling.” It was not certain if the Maloofs, saddled in debt, knew the brokers would approach a Filipino group but the source said Sacramento City Mayor Kevin Johnson was aware.
“Mayor Johnson even remarked that Sacramento and Manila are sister cities,” said the source. “He wants to keep the team in Sacramento because there is a move to relocate it to Anaheim. Mayor Johnson hopes to lead a drive to put up a new state-of-the-art coliseum for the Kings. He’s excited about the possibility of a Filipino group owning the franchise.”
The source added that the team owner of another California NBA franchise was informed of the approach to the Filipino group and expressed support. “In fact, he even asked if the Filipino group could send a letter of intent to buy the franchise to the NBA in time for the Board of Governors meeting,” said the source. However, no letter of intent was given.
The NBA Board of Governors meeting started yesterday and will end today (US time) in New York. The Maloofs were given a deadline of up to Monday to request the NBA for approval to relocate to Anaheim. Mayor Johnson was scheduled to attend the Board meeting and make a pitch to save the Sacramento franchise. Several groups, including one linked to former Kings star Chris Webber, have indicated support for Mayor Johnson’s campaign.
The source said 20 percent of the franchise has been offered to a New York investment group. He added that the two brokers are receiving vital information on basketball operations from an NBA assistant coach and a former NBA player who is the shooting instructor of an NBA superstar.
“Mr. Pangilinan was even invited to watch the Los Angeles Lakers-Oklahoma City game in Los Angeles last Sunday,” said the source. “We were told that Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss wanted to meet Mr. Pangilinan although that wasn’t confirmed. We were also informed that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would support the move to keep the Kings in Sacramento.”
Whether the Maloofs will sell the franchise or not if it relocates to Anaheim is a question mark. At the moment, the Maloofs owe the Sacramento City government $77 million to operate the Kings franchise which reportedly absorbs a loss of $25 to $28 million a year.
The source said that while Pangilinan may be interested in considering the offer, he has other business priorities to tackle. “It’s no joke buying an NBA franchise,” said the source. “It may not happen in the near future but who knows? So far, no lawyers have been assigned to look into the offer.”
Another source close to Pangilinan said yesterday there are no developments regarding the offer.
“We were told that the NBA wants to invite Mr. Pangilinan for a meeting just to talk, know the NBA better and chat with commissioner David Stern,” said the source. “The things for consideration in owning an NBA team are absentee ownership, not too keen on being a part of a stadium construction, viability of the team and compelling justification linking the acquisition to the business.”
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