NLEX Road Warriors officially enter the PBA after buying the Air21 Express

The NLEX Road Warriors aim to parlay their D-League success into the pros. (PBA/Nuki Sabio)

After initially planning to enter the professional league as an expansion team, the management of the Road Warriors decided it would be best to instead buy an existing PBA franchise instead of starting from scratch. They found a willing seller in the Air21 Express.

The NLEX Road Warriors are hoping their PBA D-League dominance could turn into some form of success in the PBA.

NLEX manager Ronald Dulatre posted a photo on his Instagram account Thursday morning congratulating the team for completing the purchase of the Air21 Express but it was not official until the PBA’s Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale.

Before Game 4 of the 2014 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals series between the Alaska Aces and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, Commissioner Chito Salud formally announced the sale.

“I am pleased to announce that, today, the PBA's board of Governors approved unanimously the assignment transfer and sale of the rights of an existing member team to MPIC and NLEX. The owner of this existing franchise is Air2100 Inc. carrying the name Air21 Express,” said Salud. “For the next season, the PBA will be having two expansion teams in Blackwater Sports and Team KIA and one other team taking over the franchise of Air2100 Inc. in the NLEX Road Warriors.”

Salud however clarified that he was not in position to tell the public about the amount of the sale as it is between the two companies.

“The new team will be acquiring the players of Air21. Player trades involving transferors and transferees are not discussed by the board these are categorized as trades,” he added.

With the purchase, NLEX will also get the chance to draft one of its prized amateurs because Air21 has the third pick in the upcoming 2014 PBA Draft.

NLEX will be the third team under Manny V. Pangilinan in the PBA joining talk ‘N Text and Meralco. This equals the three teams  San Miguel Corporation in Ginebra, San Miguel Beer, and San Mig Super Coffee. The sale also means that Asi Taulava will once again be back under the MVP banner after he left the Meralco Bolts to join the Beermen in the Asean Basketball League.

It highly plausible that Franz Pumaren is on his way out of a head coaching job in the PBA as his contract is set to expire soon. The MVP group would most likely hire a coach who’s already a part of their group to handle NLEX.