By Jerome Lagunzad
(Baliwag Star Arena)
7 p.m. – Makati vs Basilan
9 p.m. – Bulacan vs Rizal
Host Bulacan and three newcomers take center stage tonight as the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Anta Datu Cup brings its act for the first time in the Baliwag Star Arena.
The Kuyas, one of the 10 founding teams in the fast-rising nationwide cage league and backed by Mighty Sports of Angelo Wongchuking Jr., are determined to protect their home court as they take on the dangerous Rizal Crusaders in the main match at 9 p.m.
Now handled by former San Beda high school mentor Britt Reroma, the Kuyas seek to redeem themselves from a painful semifinals exit in the inaugural Rajah Cup as they bring back veteran gunner James Martinez and hometown hero Stephen Siruma.
Former San Sebastian standout Jovit Dela Cruz and burly center Jay-R Taganas are also set to suit up anew for Bulacan, which will be boosted by the arrival of former Red Warrior Hans Thiele, G-Boy Babilonia, Jason Melano and Jeric Canada.
Standing in their way are the debuting Crusaders, who will bank on the likes of former pro stalwart Kelvin Gregorio, Eric Dela Cuesta and Niño Marquez, with former UE star Braulio Lim calling the shots.
Expected to gain a fair share of the spotlight is the 7 p.m. opener between the Makati Skyscrapers and the Basilan Steel.
Under the tutelage of former La Salle standout Cholo Villanueva, the Skyscrapers look to live up to their lofty expectations as they count on sweet-shooting Philip Paniamogan and fellow PBA veterans, center Mark Isip and guard Rudy Lingganay, to lead the way.