Mindoro, Bicol join MPBL; Sta Lucia Realtors return
MANILA, Philippines – The Mindoro Tamaraws and the Bicol Volcanoes formally joined the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) as new owners took over the Pasig Pirates and the Mandaluyong Tigers on Saturday, May 18.
Team owners Gil Orense of the Volcanoes and Justin Tan of the Tamaraws signed their MPBL franchise agreement with MPBL founder and chief executive officer Manny Pacquiao and commissioner Kenneth Duremdes at the Raffles Hotel in Makati City.
After a long absence from the mainstream basketball scene, Sta Lucia Land will return and try to erase Pasig's doormat tag when the MPBL Lakandula Cup opens on June 12 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Shelving the Pirates moniker, Sta Lucia will revert to the Realtors, who played in the defunct Philippine Basketball League from 1987 to 1992, and the PBA from 1993 to 2010, bagging two crowns in that span.
According to Sta Lucia team manager Buddy Encarnado, a two-time PBA executive of the year awardee, he and head coach Bong dela Cruz are in the process of putting up a competitive team as ordered by president Exequiel Robles.
Former pro Benjo Calpito came in as the new owner of the Tigers.
Calpito said he intends to assemble a team anchored on Bernzon Franco and two former Ginebra stars: Willie Miller, a two-time PBA MVP, and Jayjay Helterbrand, the 2009 MVP.
The Tamaraws, with David Banal and Oriental Mindoro Board Member-elect Michael Leachon as team managers, are also forming a team.
The Volcanoes, who were represented by team manager Nomar Isla and coach Monel Kallos, already have a complete roster spearheaded by former pros Ronjay Buenafe, Alex Nuyles, and Jonathan Aldave.
They will be introduced to Bicolanos on May 25, when they test their mettle against the Caloocan Supremos – mentored by John Kallos – at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi City, Albay.
According to Orense, they are overwhelmed by the support being shown by Bicolanos this early, noting that their Facebook page already has 15,000 members.
A group bidding to have Iloilo was given until Tuesday, May 21, to complete the requirements. Otherwise, the franchise will be awarded to another waiting group.
Nueva Ecija is also certain to join, raising to 30 the teams competing in the Lakandula Cup, the MBPL's third staging.
The Batangas City-Tanduay Athletics won the inaugural Rajah Cup, followed by the San Juan Knights in the Datu Cup. – Rappler.com