Batangas joins MPBL games in Dubai; Pacquiao attending

Roy Luarca
The inaugural MPBL champions join the Davao Occidental Tigers and Imus Bandera in the Dubai showcase this September


ACTION-PACKED. Expect a thrilling duel when a solid Batangas side battles an Imus squad bannered by former Ginebra player Jayjay Helterbrand and celebrity Gerald Anderson. Photo from MPBL


MANILA, Philippines – The Batangas City Athletics will be the third team in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) foray to Dubai, United Arab Emirates in September.

This was bared by MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes Saturday night, June 22, after being informed by event organizers that the Tanduay-backed Athletics have been chosen to join earlier named squads Davao Occidental Tigers and Imus Bandera to play in the games, which are part of the regular Lakandula Cup schedule, set September 27 and 28.

As part of the memorandum of agreement signed by Duremdes and representatives of the organizing DJMC in Dubai on June 15, league founder Senator Manny Pacquiao will be joining the Philippine contingent during the games.

Apart from being one of the league’s strongest teams, the Athletics got the nod because of their strong fan base in Luzon, especially from the Mimaropa region, and the presence of actor Derek Ramsey in their roster.

After battling the Cocolife-supported Tigers on September 27, the Athletics, who emerged champions in the MPBL inaugural Rajah Cup, will tangle with the Bandera on September 28.

Other key Athletics players are former pro Jeff Viernes, big man Jhaymo Eguiluz and Rajah Cup Finals MVP Val Acuña.

The Athletics-Bandera clash has an interesting feature as actor Gerald Anderson plays for the Cavite team being bankrolled by GLC Truck and Equipment and Khaleb Shawarma. Fact is, Anderson scored a team-high 14 points in Bandera’s losing 57-79 effort to neighbor Bacoor Strikers on June 20.

Also in the Bandera fold is Jayjay Helterband, the 2009 PBA MVP.

According to Duremdes, he will return to Dubai after Pacquiao’s World Boxing Association welterweight title fight with Keith Thurman on July 20 in Las Vegas, to conduct an ocular inspection of the venue, finalize details, and bring the visa requirements of the Philippine delegation.

The games will be held at either the 17,000 capacity Coca-Cola Arena or the 10,000-seat Trade Centre Arena.

Also in the planning stage are MPBL games in Oman within the year. –