Air21 Express

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Air21 Express
Air21 Express logo
History Clickers (2011–2012)
Air21 Express (2012–2014)
Joined PBA 2011
Team colors Indigo, White, Orange
Company Airfrieght 2100, Inc.
Owner(s) Alberto Lina
Board governor Lito Alvarez
Head coach Franz Pumaren
Retired numbers 1 (18)
Disbanded 2014

The Air21 Express were a professional basketball team in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) that debuted in the 2011–12 season. The team debuted as the Clickers during the 2011–12 PBA Philippine Cup. In 2014, the franchise was sold to Manila North Tollways Corporation (a subsidiary of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation) to be renamed as the NLEX Road Warriors.


Energy Food and Drink Inc., owner of the original Barako Bull Energy Boosters franchise, had informed the PBA board on March 2011 that they intend to fold, citing the plan to shift their business strategy due to its ongoing lawsuit against TC Pharmaceuticals Industries Co. (manufacturer of Red Bull in Thailand) and the death of board governor Tony Chua at the height of Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana).

Barako Bull had been on leave since the 2011 PBA Commissioner's Cup and was planning to sell the franchise to Phoenix Petroleum Philippines, Inc., the sponsor of the league's games outside Metro Manila.[1] On the PBA board meeting, the board disallowed the sale of the franchise to Phoenix, failing to get at least two-thirds of the ten board members, although they allowed Barako Bull to stay on leave until the 2011 PBA Governors Cup.[2]

On June 2011, Barako Bull informed the PBA it intended to sell its franchise to the Lina Group of Companies (LGC), owner of the Air21 Express franchise, reportedly for 50 million pesos. On July 2011, the board approved Barako Bull's sale to Airfreight 2100, while deferring the new franchise's concession that might be given to the team to improve its roster.[3] Air21's Manny Alvarez mentioned that the second Lina Group franchise will be named "", named after its new company that focuses into e-commerce, and that the new team's representative would be Shiela Lina, who is then forming the team's coaching staff.[4] Clickers[edit] Clickers Clickers logo.png
Kit body thinsidesonwhite.png
Light uniform jersey
Kit shorts thinsidesonwhite.png
Team colours
Light uniform
Kit body thinwhitesides.png
Dark uniform jersey
Kit shorts thinwhitesides.png
Team colours
Dark uniform

Former De La Salle Green Archers coach Franz Pumaren was named as head coach. Pumaren, who has coached the La Salle men's varsity basketball team to five University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) basketball titles, resigned as La Salle coach in 2009 to concentrate on his political career.[5] As a result of the old Barako Bull franchise trading away their best players, the franchise asked PBA commissioner Chito Salud for concessions in the 2011 PBA Draft, pending approval from the PBA board.[6] The board eventually approved to give the team the first pick for the second round (11th overall).

The Clickers selected Mark Barroca, Magi Sison and Mark Cagoco in the 2011 PBA Draft. Barroca was eventually sent to the B-Meg Llamados for Brian Ilad and Elmer Espiritu in a three-way trade with Barako Bull Energy.

The team finished the Philippine Cup eliminations with a 0–14 record, setting a new all-time record for consecutive losses in a single conference, which was previously held by the 1982 Great Taste Discoverers (Reinforced Filipino Conference) and the 1984 Country Fair Hotdogs (2nd All-Filipino Conference).[7][8]

Air21 Express[edit]

After a disappointing finish in the Philippine Cup, the Lina Group decided to rename the franchise as the Air21 Express, the name that was previously carried by their sister team, Barako Bull Energy.[9]

Before the Commissioner's Cup started, the team traded Mark Canlas, Dennis Daa, and a 2012 first round pick to the Meralco Bolts in exchange for bigmen Nelbert Omolon and Mark Isip.[10]

The team had signed SMART-Gilas player Marcus Douthit as their import for the Commissioner's Cup.[11] Despite having Douthit as import, the team failed to pass through the elimination round, only finishing with a 3–6 record.

After years of failed campaigns, Air 21 led by 42-year-old Asi Taulava qualified for the 2014 PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals and defeated the second-seeded San Miguel Beermen twice in a row to enter the PBA semifinals for the first time in franchise history. However, they were beaten by the eventual champions San Mig Super Coffee Mixers in their semifinals series that extended to a Game 5.

Sale of the franchise to NLEX[edit]

NLEX Road Warriors[edit]

In March 2014, the Manila North Tollways Corporation (NLEX Road Warriors), together with Ever Bilena Cosmetics, Inc. (Blackwater Sports) and Columbian Autocar Corporation (Kia Sorento), applied for an expansion franchise in the PBA. Their respective applications were approved by the PBA board of governors on March 7, 2014. While Kia and Blackwater have paid the franchise fee set by the league, MNTC requested for an extension, as they were studying whether to enter the PBA as an expansion team or acquire an existing PBA franchise. This is due to the limited concessions given by the league to the expansion teams, namely the "protect 12" policy for the expansion draft, no direct hires or carry-over players from their PBA D-League teams, and the 11th to 16th pick in the upcoming rookie draft.

On June 17, 2014, MNTC announced that it was having negotiations with a PBA team to acquire their franchise. Due to the ongoing Governors' Cup playoffs, MNTC did not identify the team they were negotiating with, but stated it will reveal the team's identity once the team was eliminated.[12] Days later, the team was revealed to be Air21 Express.

On June 23, 2014, an agreement was reached between MNTC and the Lina Group of Companies regarding the sale of the Air21 Express PBA franchise to MNTC.[13] The sale was approved during the regular monthly meeting of the board of governors, paving the way for the sale of the franchise to MNTC.[14]

Final roster[edit]

Air21 Express (2011-2014) roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # POB Name Height Weight DOB (YYYY–MM–DD) From
SG 3 Philippines Cardona, Mark 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 180 lb (82 kg) 1981-11-03 De La Salle
PG 6 Philippines Poligrates, Eloy (R) 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) 180 lb (82 kg) 1986-29-04 Southwestern-U
G 7 Philippines Atkins, Simon 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) 180 lb (82 kg) 1988-07-19 De La Salle
SG 8 Philippines Yeo, Joseph 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 1983-09-07 De La Salle
SF 10 Canada Anthony, Sean Injured 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 200 lb (91 kg) 1986-01-26 McGill
PG 11 Philippines Villanueva, Jonas 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) 175 lb (79 kg) 1983-03-31 Far Eastern
F 13 Philippines Camson, Eric (R) 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 228 lb (103 kg) 1990-06-12 Adamson
F/C 14 Philippines Villanueva, Enrico 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 230 lb (104 kg) Ateneo
G/F 15 Philippines Menor, Ogie 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 1986-12-04 San Beda
F 16 Philippines Borboran, Mark 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 170 lb (77 kg) 1981-11-01 UE
F/C 17 Philippines Ramos, Aldrech 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 215 lb (98 kg) 1988-04-03 Far Eastern
G/F 21 Philippines Jaime, Chito 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 200 lb (91 kg) 1983-10-21 AMA
PF 63 Switzerland Burtscher, Michael 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 210 lb (95 kg) 1985-03-08 CCC
C 88 Tonga Taulava, Asi 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 245 lb (111 kg) 1973-03-02 Brigham Young–Hawaii
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (I) Import
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (IN) Inactive
  • (S) Suspended
  • (R) Rookie
  • Injured Injured


Season-by-season records[edit]

Records from the 2013–14 PBA season:
Conf. Team name Elimination round Playoffs
Finish W L PCT Stage Results
PHI Air21 Express 10th/10 3 11 .214 Did not qualify
COM 7th/10 3 6 .333 Quarterfinals
Air21 def. San Miguel** in two games
San Mig Coffee 3, Air21 2
GOV 7th/10 5 4 .556 Quarterfinals Rain or Shine** 111, Air21 90
Total elimination round 11 21 .344 1 semifinal appearance
Total playoffs 4 4 .500 0 Finals appearances
Total 2013–14 15 25 .375 0 championships
Total franchise 34 77 .306 0 championships

*one-game playoffs
**team had the twice-to-beat advantage

Retired numbers[edit]

Air21 Express retired numbers
Player Position Tenure
18 Vergel Meneses G 2002-2004[a]
  • a  – retired on December 18, 2013. Meneses wore #18 during his stint for the Swift/Sunkist/Pop Cola franchise from 1993 to 1999. He played for the old FedEx/Air21 franchise (known as the Barako Bull Energy until 2016) from 2002 to 2004, wearing jersey #8.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Beltran, Nelson (2011-03-22). "Barako Bull opts to leave PBA". Philippine Star. Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  2. ^ Beltran, Nelson (2011-03-30). "Barako sale to Phoenix nixed". Philippine Star. Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  3. ^ Beltran, Nelson (2011-07-09). "Board okays Lina takeover of Barako, TV5 pact". Philippine Star. Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  4. ^ Beltran, Nelson (2011-07-16). "Kings to ship Miller to Express for Canaleta". Philippine Star. Retrieved 2011-08-18. 
  5. ^ Belen, Reynaldo (2011-07-22). "Franz Pumaren to sign 3-year deal with Shopinas in PBA". Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  6. ^ Belen, Reynaldo (2011-07-22). "Shopinas asks PBA for more draft picks". Retrieved 2011-08-23. 
  7. ^ 0–14, Josiah Israel Albelda
  8. ^ B-MEG shuts out Shopinas campaign, clinches twice-to-beat,, December 8, 2011
  9. ^ Management wants Air21 brand back in PBA, GMA News Online, January 11, 2012
  10. ^ [1], Reynaldo Belen, InterAKTV · Friday, January 27, 2012
  11. ^ [2], Reynaldo Belen, InterAKTV · Thursday, February 2, 2012
  12. ^ No more expansion: NLEX buying existing team to join PBA, Rey Joble,, June 17, 2014
  13. ^ NLEX reaches deal to acquire Air 21 franchise, awaits league approval, Rey Joble,, June 23, 2014
  14. ^ PBA approval of Air21's sale to NLEX clears way for Joseph Yeo trade to Ginebra for draft pick, Snow Badua,, June 26, 2014
  15. ^ Caguioa all praises for old Ginebra mentor Meneses: ‘Parang Jordan of the Philippines’, Rey Joble, InterAKSYON, December 18, 2013

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Barako Bull Energy Boosters
PBA teams genealogies
Succeeded by
NLEX Road Warriors