WELCOAT  TO  STAY  IN PBL, BUT URGES  ITS  CAGERS  TO TRY PBA

MANILA, June 20, 2005 
(STAR) By Joey Villar - Welcoat Paints has been knocking on the doors of the Philippine Basketball Association for years.

And after recently topping the 2005 Philippine Basketball League Unity Cup with a 3-1 trouncing of Montaña Pawnshop for a sixth league title overall, the Wellbest-owned franchise may just do so again anytime soon.

"Hindi pa naman namin kino-close ang pinto sa pag-akyat sa PBA," said PBL chairman Raymund Yu, who co-owns Welcoat with Terry Que.

"For now, we’ll cherish this victory in the PBL first. Matagal-tagal na din kasi nung huling nag-champion kami dito," added Yu, whose last championship came three years ago when the likes of Rommel Adducul, Ronald Tubid, James Yap, Eddie Laure and Paul Artadi still ruled the field.

There are two ways the Paint Masters, one of the teams who applied but didn’t make it in 2002, can enter the professional ranks.

First, if the board chaired by Sta. Lucia Realty’s Buddy Encarnado approves a new franchise for interested parties like Welcoat to buy. This is a remote possibility though since the league has no plans of adding another club to a 10-squad roster.

The other way is for a team to sell an existing franchise similar to what Tanduay Rhum did in 2002 when it sold out to FedEx.

There were reports early this year that Shell is planning to sell out its franchise at the end of the season, which could pave the way for the Paint Masters’ entry. Turbochargers management, however, denied it.

"Our main focus right now is the PBL, particularly the next conference," said Yu, who replaced Blu Detergent’s Dioceldo Sy as league chairman.

While Welcoat management is still undecided about entering the PBA, its players are sure to apply for this year’s Rookie Draft.

Fil-Am Jay Washington, who played college ball for US NCAA Southern Region champ Eckerd College, in fact, has already applied as early as April. Teammates Jay-R Reyes, Leo Najorda, JA Coching and Erwin Sta. Maria may also follow suit.

"Sabi ko nga sa players ko, mag-apply na sila because this is the opportunity to do so since we’re coming from title win," said Yu. "Masaya na kami na makita sila na mag-succeed sa PBA."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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