MPBL: Valenzuela beefier, deeper; taps Esplana as head coach

Roy Luarca
MPBL: Valenzuela beefier, deeper; taps Esplana as head coach
A retooled Valenzuela squad expects a more competitive run with former PBA star Gerry Esplana at the coaching helm


MANILA, Philippines – After failing to make the playoffs in the recent Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup, Valenzuela is ready to rebound in the coming Lakandula Cup.

Oftentimes outmuscled underneath, Valenzuela, which has a new sponsor in SPVTop Marketplace, has decided to go big with the returning Mark Andaya and former pro Erwin Sta Maria.

Valenzuela is also tapping former PBA star Gerry Esplana, a hometown hero and the city’s sports director, to be the team’s head coach for the MPBL’s third season.

The 6-foot-9 Andaya and the 6-foot-5 Sta Maria will shore up the frontline of Valenzuela-SPVTOP Marketplace, alongside holdovers Chris de Chavez (6-6) and Hans Thiele (6-5).

They will allow ace point guard Paolo Hubalde, Henryford Ruaya, fully recovered from a hand injury, Joshua Alcober and new acquisition Jason Varilla to shoot without hesitation.

Completing the Valenzuela team, which has yet to come up with a new moniker, are returnees Marlon Kalaw, Jaymart Gimpayao, Kido Cabrera, Carlo de Chavez, Mel Mabigat, Jerome Ortega, Julius Santos and Carlo Velasco; and rookies JP Martinez, Rob Ricafort, Raydman Lacamento, and King Esplana, son of Gerry.

Hubalde, the team captain, said with the support of management, the addition of key players, and the mentorship of Esplana, Valenzuela should be headed for better results in the Lakandula Cup kicking off June 12 at Mall of Asia Arena.

The elder Esplana confirmed he and Valenzuela team owners Jess Barbito and Samson Lato and Brick Agropa of SVPTop Marketplace, the country’ leader in 3-in-1 loading industry and maker of Genius products, are in the process of formalizing his coaching duties.

Esplana represented LGU (Local Government Unit) partner Representative Eric Martinez in the presentation of the Valenzuela team to the press Friday night, May 31, at West Avenue Suites. –


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