MPBL games on Thursday (Alonte Sports Arena)
5:30 p.m. — Davao Occidental vs Imus
7:30 p.m. — Laguna vs Zamboanga
THREE more new teams will make their debut on Thursday, as the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) goes to Alonte Sports Arena in Biñan, Laguna.
The Laguna Heroes-Krah, an expansion team from the Southern Tagalog region, will take on the Zamboanga Valientes-Family Brand Sardines in the main game at 7:30 p.m., right after the match between the Davao Occidental Tigers and the Imus Bandera-GLC Truck and Equipment at 5:30 p.m.
With ex-pros Denok Miranda and Jai Reyes leading the way, Laguna is out to make a good impression in its first game in the fastest growing regional amateur basketball league in the country put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao, with PBA legend Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
Aside from the two, three more ex-pros are also in the line up—former Ateneo star Ryan Buenafe, long-time San Miguel Beer practice player Michael Mabulac and Rex Neyles. The team will be handled by Alex Angeles.
However, the Heroes will be facing a team that is no pushover.
Familiar fixtures in the PBA will also backstop the Valientes led by former Barako Bull standout Reed Juntilla, comebacking players Jonathan Parreno and Noy Javier, ex-Purefoods player Rob Sanz, and journeyman Leo Avenido.
A former PBL MVP, Juntilla will provide leadership and scoring in the backcourt with Parreno, a former Kia player, and Javier, a former star player of Perpetual Help, who will provide the offense from the perimeter.
Sanz is the team’s go-to-guy at the post, while Avenido, who will be joining the team next month to fulfill his contractual obligations overseas, is likely to provide stability in the point guard spot.
Equally exciting is the match-up between the Bandera and the Tigers, the preseason champions of the four-team meet in Polomolok, South Cotabato last month.
The Bandera had done a lot of retooling and head coach Jerry Codiñera brought in a glamorous player who has a rich basketball tradition.
Andre Paras, son of PBA’s only Rookie/MVP winner Benjie Paras, will be a welcome addition for the Bandera, who also nabbed James Castro from the Bataan Defenders (now known as the Risers), as well as former Purefoods fan favorite Jerwin Gaco.
The Tigers, on the other hand, were also busy acquiring big names, and they were successful in luring former PBA champion Leo Najorda, ex-pros Bonbon Custodio, Billy Robles, Bogs Raymundo, and Mark Yee, who was released by Kia to play for the MPBL.