MPBL: Which new key players will click together?

Special Olympics athlete Matthew Millett of Team USA with the 3/4 court buzzer beater!

(First part)

THE Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League has yet to unveil its full expanded season, which will start in June 12. In fact, a lot of teams have yet to finalize their roster, but some have already tinkered their lineups and have already built a solid foundation of their squad in gearing for a grueling 10 to 11-month stretch.

FOX Sports Philippines takes a look at some of the key players of the teams. One question, however, remains: can these players click together?

Manila – Roger Yap, Joseph Yeo, Riel Cervantes, Marcy Arellano, Chris Bitoon, Ken Acibar, John Lopez

From the looks of it, Manila appears to be a solid team on paper and they showed their full potential in the recent preseason games in Polomolok, South Cotabao.

Playing without Yeo (who had to attend to personal matters in Manila) and with Yap and Arellano alternating from seeing action to rest their injuries, the Stars look aligned together during the off season. An impending negotiation with fan favorite and ex-Purefoods player Jerwin Gaco is also in the offing, and this might make Manila a more dangerous team.

With a solid starting line up composed of Yap, Yeo, Cervantes, Lopez and Acibar and a solid supporting crew, it looks like the Philip Cezar-mentored squad can go 10-deep in the coming MPBL season.

Pampanga – Jimbo Aqino, Juneric Baloria, Daniel de Guzman, Allen Enriquez, Ed Rivera, Marvin Moraga, Jeric Nacpil, Marlon Gomez

Here’s another new team that presents a deep line up.

Nearly forgotten player Jimbo Aquino, the former Ginebra player, has resurfaced and will be back in action to play in his neighboring province. Two more acquisitions — Baloria and De Guzman, former players of the Parañaque Patriots, will also provide the team an inside and out game.

The team won’t have much problem with chemistry as players who saw action in the PBA D-League and PCBL for the Foton squad are also in the line up like Enriquez, Rivera, Nacpil, Moraga and Gomez.

Davao Occidental – Billy Robles and Leo Najorda

From the looks of it, you might think why there’s only two key players I listed. Don’t get me wrong; they’re the only two marquee players, but the Tigers’ virtually unknown squad is efficient and enabled the team to win the preseason event in Polomolok.

The team, however, will still be anchored on Billy Ray Robles, who is known in his town as the “Ilonggo Superman”. Newly-acquired Leo Najorda, the former PBA player and part of two championship teams, will be alongside him.

San Juan – Mac Cardona, John Wilson, Larry Rodriguez, Jamil Gabawan, CJ Isit, Samboy de Leon and Jam Cortes

A team that has Cardona and Wilson at the firing end provides the squad a double barrel attack from the perimeter.

That’s what the San Juan Knights have so far and with a frontline composed of Rodriguez, Gabawan and Cortes, and you can expect toughness up front for the Senator Jinggoy Estrada-owned club.

De Leon and Cortes may have short lived careers in the PBA, but they will have their time to shine. So will CJ Isit, a sensational guard from Mapua.

Zamboanga – Reed Juntilla, Leo Avenido, Von Lanete, Jonathan Pareno, Patrick Cabahug

Zamboanga is one among the teams from the south which created an early buzz.

That was made possible when the team started setting its sights on ex-pros Juntilla, Avenido, Cabahug and Pareno. The Valientes also picked up Von Lanete, brother of Garvo and Chico, who are now both playing in the PBA.

Michael Galinato, Rino Berame, Ferdinand Lusdoc and Rudy Unde will anchor their frontline.