Manila, Team Rizal raise Maharlika Pilipinas member teams to 15

IN just one day, the MPBL was able to draw three teams to sign up and become their new members, raising the number of participating squads to 15.

On Saturday night, Manila and Team Rizal came in to sign up as the 14th and 15th member, respectively. San Juan, which will still carry the moniker Knights, became the no. 13 squad after ex-Senator Jingoy Estrada signed the contract.

An hour later, Manila and Team Rizal showed up and were welcomed by Senator Manny Pacquiao, the founder of this fledgling basketball league, commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, assistant commissioner Satar Macantal and operations manager Zaldy Realubit.

Philip Cezar, who previously led San Juan to the 2000 championship in the Metropolitan Basketball Association, the precursor of the MPBL, will be calling the shots for Manila.

A PBA Hall of Famer and a former MVP, Cezar is currently the head of the Manila Sports Council.

Surprisingly, Manila will be led by a Visayan player, former PBA star guard Roger Yap.

A member of the old Purefoods’ multiple championship teams, Yap will lead the way for Manila and will be supported by fellow ex-pros like Riel Cervantes and Marcy Arellano.

“Expect our team to be fun and aggressive. We’ll be combining veterans, ex-pros and young guns. We’ll be entertaining every game,” said team owner Roman Ang.

Homecourt of Manila is the San Andres Gym in Malate.

Team Rizal was represented by team owner Vivian de Padua and told that the group will take advantage of getting players from different towns and cities in the province.

“We have Antipolo, Binangono, Tanay, Pililia, Teresa, so maraming nasasakupan. We’ll take advantage of that para makakuha ng good players,” added De Padua.

Leading Team Rizal are ex-PBA players Kelvin Gregorio, who played for Sta. Lucia, former Meralco player Khazim Mirza and Bonbon Custodio.