Pasig Pirates set to sail again

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The City of Pasig is set to make its return to the local basketball scene.

As announced on its social media page, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) welcomed the Pasig Pirates as its new expansion team for the second conference tentatively set on June 12. A contract signing was held yesterday between team owner James Anton Machate, MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, and Operations Head Zaldy Realubit. A brainchild of Senator Manny Pacquiao, the MPBL is a regional basketball league that features home-and-away games between local ball clubs.

Pasig City once fielded a team in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) from 1998 to 2000. Playing in the Northern Conference, the team, also named as the Pasig Pirates, was bannered by Francis Adriano and 1992 PBA Rookie of the Year Bong Ravena. After their MBA stint, Adriano and Ravena would find their way to the PBA. From 2000 to 2005, Ravena – a former San Miguel and Purefoods stalwart – would complete his PBA journey with the Talk ‘N Text Phone Pals. Adriano, on the other hand, went on to play for three PBA teams and two ABL squads until 2012. The Pirates’ head coach then was Joel Banal, who would later win championships for the Ateneo De Manila Blue Eagles in the UAAP and the Talk ‘N Text Phone Pals in the PBA.

What inspired its youthful owner to revive the team? In a brief chat with FOX Sports Philippines, Machate bared his motivation.

“Na-inspire ako since noon sa MBA, ‘di tayo pinalad makakuha ng kampeonato. So I am hoping this time, we can bag one. Then by this way, I am giving all the grassroot level (players) a chance to shine na rin,” said Machate.

The Pasig Pirates enjoy the active support of the local government, through the sports development project of Mayor Bobby Eusebio and Vice Mayor Iyo Caruncho-Bernardo. With a purpose of forming a competitive basketball team from the grassroots level, tryouts are currently conducted in various Pasig barangays. A pool of 40 players will be formed from the cluster tryouts, from which a new crew of Pasig Pirates would be selected and trained for the MPBL.

The tryouts have attracted a multitude of Pasig-based basketball players, who yearn to strut their stuff in the MPBL. Marquee players who have attended the tryouts were Kojack Melegrito, Magi King Sison, Joshua Saret, Nikki Monteclaro, and Mark Kenneth Carongoy. Francis Adriano has also showed up in one of the tryout sessions.

Machate is standing in as the head coach during tryouts, with assistant coaches Romualdo Intalan III, Don Urro, and Rey Samonte. With player tryouts still on-going, the team is also in search of a head coach. According to Machate, “I am looking for two more assistant coaches. From that pool, I would name a head coach”.

With the MPBL’s reported expansion by next conference, Machate is optimistic and excited for the forthcoming challenge. “I am expecting next season to be very exciting. Since for sure maraming team ang magpapalakas at andami din team na I heard will join. So I am expecting the next season to be very challenging, exciting and fun to watch”, quipped Machate.

The Pasig Sports Center in Caruncho Avenue will serve as the home court of the Pasig Pirates. Its team owner expects a great turnout from fellow Pasigueños for their home games. Machado extended his message to the home team’s fans: “To all Pasigueños out there, please support our team, the Pasig Pirates. Thank you sa walang-sawang suporta nyo sa larangan ng sports. We won’t let you down”.