Amid issues surrounding the Powerade Tigers franchise, a top team executive has left his post.
JB Baylon, the team’s representative to the PBA Board of Governors where he serves as vice-chairman, resigned from his position with Coca-Cola Export Philippines, the local arm of the Coca-Cola Company.
Cat Avelino, communications director of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. which owns the PBA franchise, confirmed the news to InterAKTV.
“He wasn’t replaced as governor, but he has resigned from the company, meaning that he’s also no longer board governor of the squad,” said Avelino in a telephone interview.
Last Monday, CCBPI wrote the PBA to advise the appointment of Ronald Asuncion as alternate governor. With Baylon’s departure, Asuncion will represent the team in the PBA board in an acting capacity.
A Powerade team insider said he was taken by surprise by the swiftness of Baylon’s decision.
“We were expecting him to be with us until end of February, but we were surprised that it happened so fast,” he said.
Last Tuesday, Baylon posted a cryptic message on his Twitter account: “A heavy load is off my chest: love the TRUTH and be FREE! Happy Valentine’s Day to all!”
The Tigers have been in the news with issues concerning the team’s ownership. Last Monday, CCBPI reiterated that it still owns the squad but admitted that it has had talks to sell the franchise to San Miguel Corporation.
In light of the ownership saga, PBA officials have questioned a proposed trade that would send one of Powerade’s star players, Marcio Lassiter, to Petron in exchange for Noy Baclao and Rey Guevarra. The timing for the trade is curious because the Tigers are coming off a Cinderella run to the Philippine Cup finals, with Lassiter playing a major role. Petron is owned by SMC.
The trade remains on hold until the PBA board meets on February 20 to discuss the Powerade situation.
As the top executive in charge of basketball decisions, Baylon was instrumental in the Tigers’ rebuilding prior to the season, green-lighting decisions to draft Lassiter and top overall pick JVee Casio.
In a podcast with InterAKTV last month, Baylon said that the success of the team in the Philippine Cup has had a great effect on the morale of Coca-Cola employees, apart from boosting the image of the Powerade brand.
Baylon is also an ardent supporter of the national cause in basketball. He was responsible for Coca-Cola’s involvement with the Philippine team program, getting Powerade to bankroll the squad that represented the country in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship.
Prior to the season, Baylon also committed to make Powerade players available for the national team should they be called to service once more. Prior to joining the Tigers, Casio and Lassiter were part of the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national program.
“Flag should come first, especially for us, a multinational [corporation] doing business in the Philippines,” said Baylon. “It is our way of paying respect to the country which has so generously hosted us.”