When was the last time you’ve seen Bicol participating in the regional basketball scene?
You may only see them participating in regional meets such as Palarong Pambansa or Batang Pinoy, but the Bicolanos will have their first ever team competing in a semi-professional basketball league that is the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
To be known as the Volcanoes, they will carry the entire province on their shoulders when they compete in the fastest growing regional amateur basketball league which opens on June 12.
Part of the concession requested by Bicol is to have 10 home games during the season.
Tough as it may seem considering the travel time and the logistics to be made, league founder and chief executive officer Senator Manny Pacquiao and commissioner Kenneth Duremdes believe it’s doable.
“They just need to provide the bus for the long travel as well as the hotel accommodation for the delegation,” said Duremdes.
The Bicol Volcanoes will be coached by Monel Kallos, a mentor who spent the previous years coaching in Thailand. Last season, he returned to assist his younger brother, John Kallos in Caloocan, before the former assumed the head coaching position for the Parañaque Patriots.
This season, Kallos returned home to his native province and there, he got the full backing of the entire Bicol headed by governor Al Francis Bichara. He was delegated to put up a competitive team and he started it by naming Ronjay Buenafe, an ex-pro with a championship experience, to spearhead the team.
Buenafe will be reunited with his long-time coach, Nomar Isla, who is now playing the role as team manager.
Aside from Buenafe, other key players of the team include Jon Aldave and fellow ex-pro Alex Nuyles.
Bicol will have two venues to be used for the coming MPBL season — the Ibalong Center and the Albay Astrodome, both venued had been used by the PBA in their provincial matches.
The entire Bicolandia is excited and they want nothing more than an explosion for their very own Bicol Volcanoes.
Rey Joble is a member of the PBA Press Corps and Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA). He is the media bureau of MPBL