LINA GROUP ACQUIRES WELCOAT FRANCHISE
MANILA, SEPTEMBER 17, 2007 (STAR) The Lina Group of Companies recently acquired the Welbest franchise in the Philippine Basketball League and vowed to continue Welcoat’s winning tradition that netted six titles in 12 finals appearances.
Air21 president Lito Alvarez confirmed the acquisition, but declined to reveal the details of the franchise transfer, although he said both the Lina Group of Companies, which he represented, and Welcoat, through owner Raymund Yu, were both “satisfied of the deal.”
“Welcoat’s tradition in the PBL is something that Mr. Yu is very proud of, and something that Mr. Bert Lina hopes to continue,” said Alvarez. “When I look at their track record, and the players that have remained in the team (Henkel Sista), I see a team that’s ready for another run at greatness. We’ll make sure of that.”
With the deal, the Lina Group of Companies, which also owns the Burger King basketball squad, is now formally a member of the PBL family as the Whoppers squad used to play in the league only as a guest team.
“This formalizes our entry into the country’s premier amateur league,” said Alvarez. “We’ll decide in the coming days what brand name to use in the coming season of the league.”
The acquisition of the Welbest franchise, gives Lina his second high profile basketball team, as he also owns the Air21 Express in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
“I hope both teams do well in the coming seasons,” said Alvarez.
The 24th season of the PBL begins on Oct. 29.
Among the players who began their basketball careers at Welcoat were Romel Adducul, RenRen Ritualo, Don Allado, Yancy de Ocampo, Marc Pingris, Ronald Tubid, Anthony Washington, Leomar Najorda, Denok Miranda, Eddie Laure, Celino Cruz, Renato Morano, Gilbert Demape and James Yap.
De Oacampo, who together with Allado and Eugene Tan, bannered the Welcoat team that bagged its first PBL title via a 3-0 sweep of the Red Bull Energy Drinkers during the 1999 Challenge Cup.
From that time on, the franchise won five more championships in 12 finals appearances, putting the team on the same level as the PBL’s legendary ball clubs such as Magnolia in the 1980s and Tanduay in the 1990s.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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