June Mar Fajardo. Greg Slaughter. Roger Pogoy.
Those are just some of the top players who are making names for themselves in the pro league and has also donned the national colors.
But before their splash here in the capital, they all started down south in Cebu.
That’s exactly the path the Cebu-Max4 Birada want to tread as they try to make their fellow Cebuanos proud in the upcoming Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup, set on Saturday at the SM Megamall Events Center.
The best of the best from the Cebuano schools will don the team’s colors, with PBA legend Dondon Hontiveros calling the shots for the squad.
“That’s our goal. In any tournament, you want to make a good impression,” shared Hontiveros, himself a three-time PBA and a one-time ABL champion
CESAFI Most Valuable Player Rey Suerte leads the feisty Cebu crew as he will team up with fellow UV Green Lancer Garciano Puerto Jr., USJ-R studs Fletcher Galvez and Nichole Ubalde, as well as Red Cachuela of SWU.
It’s a new challenge for these Cebuanos as they test their mettle against a tough 12-team field.
In the first leg alone, Cebu-Max4 is grouped with the Pasay Voyagers and the Vigan Wolves.
Yet for Hontiveros, he wouldn’t have it any other way as he wants to give these young stalwarts a chance to prove that they belong in the big leagues.
“Iba ang level of competition sa 3×3. It’s really all out,” he said. “Mahirap din kasi sa logistics pa lang, talo na kami. We’re just one of the two teams from the south, together with Zamboanga (Valientes), but no excuses. We’ll go there and fight as hard as we can.”
With only five players listed on the Birada’s roster, one couldn’t help but wonder if Hontiveros would soon lace up those sneakers and join his players on the half-court.
And the 41-year-old is open on the possibility.
“I’m in good shape and I’ve been working out,” he said smiling. “But I will leave it to the team owner. If he asks, maybe, but now I’m happy to give the opportunity to the kids.”
More than anything, it’s the pride representing the Queen City of the South that fuels these Cebuanos to do their best in the first-of-its-kind 3×3 league.
“We’ll try to do our best in representing Cebu. May pride para sa amin eh. There’s this opportunity. Kahit nakalaro na sila sa Cesafi, ibang liga ito eh.”