ONE of the concessions for Mac Cuan’s appointment as coach of expansion team Mandaluyong El Tigre is to bring along five Alab Pilipinas players to form the core of this MPBL expansion team.
But while they’re still negotiating with the players, can you name the five players the El Tigre are going to get from newly-crowned Asean Basketball League champions Alab Pilipinas?
Given that Bataan, another MPBL squad, which is now being supported by SCTEX and handled by PBA legend Jojo Lastimosa, the Risers are likely to get key players from their farm team who suited up for Alab Pilipinas, among them are ex-pros Byron Villarias, Pamboy Raymundo and Alfred Batino.
With still more than a handful left in the line up, can you guess the players El Tigre are going to tap to shore up their line up in the opening of the fastest growing regional basketball league in the country on June 12?
FOXSports is joining the fans in making a wild guess on the players who are likely to join Mandaluyong’s team. Here’s our pick:
Ray Parks – No question, Ray Parks is the most talented local player in the Alab Pilipinas roster and passing up the opportunity of getting probably the best second generation player not playing in the PBA today means making a complete fool out of yourself.
While reports have it that Parks are now thinking of moving up to the PBA in next season’s Rookie Draft, it’s only fitting that the 6-foot-3, versatile player would have a league to play for.
Playing in the MPBL will not only boost Parks stock, it will also give the league an instant face value. He will become the starting off guard for the El Tigre.
Rico Maierhofer – Once a celebrated player in the PBA, the reed thin, 6-foot-4 player from La Salle who became part of Purefoods’ multiple championship teams can provide the expansion squad a rim protector. His experience, his athleticism and passion for the game will certainly be assets Mandaluyong can count on. It won’t be surprising to see Maierhofer playing the power forward spot for the El Tigre.
John Ray Alabanza – I was about to pick Lawrence Domingo, but might pass up on doing so because of the eligibility issues. The MPBL is strict in imposing players should have played college here. He played in Eastern New Mexico, hence to avoid complications, I’d rather go for the 6-foot-5 John Ray Alabanza, a hardworking frontliner who played in the PBA D-League for champion team Cignal. He’ll be playing the center/forward spot.
Josh Urbiztondo — I have always thought Josh Urbiztondo as the Pinoy version of Steve Blake, who became popular playing for the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA. Their stroke is similar, both of them deadly from beyond the arc. In need of a point guard, I think Urbiztondo, a PBA journeyman, can become the starting point guard of the El Tigre.
A veteran quarterback like Urbiztondo can calm down his team on tense situations. His ability to step up big during crucial moments is above par. He’ll be an integral part of Mandaluyong.
Dondon Hontiveros – Would you leave a sentimental favorite out of it? Of course, Dondon Hontiveros deserves a spot in the small forward position. His championship experience, his veteran smarts and his charisma will certainly elevate the game of the El Tigre.
Getting will not only enhance the image of the El Tigre, it will also give them instant attraction and expect fans to pack the arena every game. Choosing Hontiveros over Rob Celis is not an easy thing to do, but in getting players from the team, it’s not just about skill set nor upside that you need to consider.
Hontiveros started blossoming as a player in another regional basketball league. It’s time to have a fitting send off and start again in the MPBL.
Images from ABL Website