Hapee Toothpaste hopes to relive its glory days when it joins the PBA Developmental-League starting in the Aspirants’ Cup this October.
“We’re happy to be back in the amateur basketball league,” said Hapee Team Manager Bernard Yang. “It’s been years since we last took part in a competitive tournament.”
Owned by Dr. Cecilio Pedro, Hapee Toothpaste carved a name first in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) after winning three titles before taking a leave of absence in 2009.
It also won two titles outside of the league, including the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in 1996 with the prolific Tony Harris as its import.
Without Hapee, Toyota Otis and Harbour Centre – then the most dominant team – the PBL faded into oblivion in 2011.
Hapee was also responsible for bringing Gabe Norwood to the country in 2007 – the same year he helped the Mikee Romero-backed Philippine team win the SEA Games gold medal.
Yang said they are eyeing several marquee players of multi-titled NLEX to comprise the team to make sure their return would be a memorable one.
NLEX, one of the companies headed by Manny V. Pangilinan, has bought tge franchise of Air21 to play in the pro league.
“Mr. Pedro wants us to form a very formidable team and we’re still looking for a coach,” he added.
The entry of Hapee increased the number of teams to 12.
The other members of the league are CaféFrance, Boracay Rum,
Cebuana Lhuillier, Cagayan Valley, Jumbo Plastic, Lyceum of the Philippine College, Racal Motorsales Corp., San Sebastian College, Wangs Basketball, AMA University and Manny Pacquiao’s MP Hotel.
The second PBA D-League Rookie Draft is set on Sept.16 at the PBA Office in Libis, Quezon City.