THE Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) has welcomed the Bataan Defenders as the league’s newest member, rising the participants to eight heading to the inaugural staging opener on Jan. 25.
Jointly bankrolled by Governor Albert Garcia and Bai Shipping, the Defenders’ entry in the fledgling amateur league was sealed recently during the contract signing held recently at the Dillingers/Prohibition Resto Bar in Greenbelt 3.
Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes and operations head Zaldy Realubit and Bai Shipping team officials led by Noel Ongkiko, Randy Medina and Lisandro Favila signed the contract that would make the Defenders the newest member of the league put up by Senator and boxing eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao.
Joining the MPBL, which serves as a sanctuary for people who want to make their mark in the local basketball scene and provide a new venue for ex-pros who still want to showcase their wares, fits the direction of Bai Shipping.
“Our purpose is to give opportunity for players who want to make it to the PBA. We want to expose the natives of Bataan and at the same time, our business is also based there, so this is the direction we’re undertaking,” said Mr. Ongkiko.
Mr. Ongkiko said investing in young players will be the team’s main thrust.
“We want to form a young, competitive team,” he added. “As much as possible, we want players aged between 18 to 24 years old.”
Mr. Ongkiko added that they are in the process of selecting the composition of the coaching staff while also looking for ideal players who can make up the squad.
Bai Shipping, according to Ongkiko, is the first shipping industry that will participate in a commercial basketball league, something which the company is proud of.
“Excellence, proficiency and safety. That’s been the philosophy of the company,” added team manager Favila. “That’s been our core values.”
The Bataan Defenders will join the cast composed of Muntinlupa Cagers, Bulacan Kuyas, Valenzuela Classics, Tanduay Batangas City Athletics, Caloocan Supremos, Yakimix Parañaque Green Beret, and Navotas Clutch.
Two more cities have also expressed interest in participating – Quezon City and Imus. — Rey Joble