Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
4 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies
6 p.m. – Bicol vs. Basilan
8 p.m. – Zamboanga vs Davao Occidental
Davao Occidental and Zamboanga, two teams which made headway in the season just passed of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, take center stage on opening night of the third season of the fastest growing regional amateur basketball league.
The two teams square off at 8 p.m. right before the curtain raiser between Bicol, one of the newest teams in the league, and a retooled Basilan squad that is ready to make its presence felt this season.
For the Cocolife-backed Tigers, playing right away after losing a painful finals series against the San Juan Knights will be a great opportunity to show their hunger and desire to get back quickly in the tournament organized by Sen. Manny Pacquiao with one-time PBA MVP Kenneth Duremdes as commissioner.
They’ll be parading an almost intact line up and a few more key additions that include Yvan Ludovice, Richard Albo, Marco Balagtas and Chester Saldua.
But the Family’s Brand Sardines-supported team is no pushover either.
With three holdovers from last season’s team that made it all the way to the Final Four of the southern division leading the charge, Zamboanga’s trio of Harold Arboleda, Robin Roño and Reed Juntilla will try to keep a hold of their squad.
Bicol, one of the six expansion teams joining this season, will have its baptism of fire taking on Basilan, the busiest team in the off season.
The Volcanoes, owned by Gil Orense and coached by Monel Kallos, will be headed by ex-pros Ronjay Buenafe and Alex Nuyles. The two will serve as the 1-2 punch of the team and expected to lead the squad all season long.
Meantime, the Imus Bandera-Khaleb Shawarma/GLC yesterday announced that it has signed former PBA MVP and national team stalwart Jayjay Helterbrand.
“We’re happy to have finally signed Jayjay Helterbrand into our roster. His overall experience, basketball IQ, and leadership would definitely provide a huge boost for our bid in the upcoming season,” said Imus Bandera-Khaleb Shawarma/GLC team manager Lou Abad.
“Kaya kayang pa niya maglaro. As you can see, he is still well-conditioned given that he has not stopped in playing regularly sa iba’t-ibang mga liga. He can still keep up with the young guys.”