CEBU CITY, Philippines- With the acquisition of a prolific playmaker, two reliable big-men, a big man coach and a new local government unit as partner, the Cebu Sharks- Casino Ethyl Alcohol is not settling for anything else- the championships in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (Lakandula Cup) which will open up on June 12 in the Mall of Asia Arena (MOA).
Take it from from their experienced homegrown player, Eliud Poligrates, once heralded as top playmaker in the local caging tourneys who made it to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) before fading out only to be resurrected this time.
“To my team mates, let us just follow what the coach and the management will tell us, let us make it to the championships,” Poligrates said in Cebuano.
The 6′.0 playmaker once lorded the local basketball scene for his playmaking prowess, albeit short, with the defunct Southwestern University(SWU) Cobras after the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) banned him for life for engaging as “hired player” in a basketball tournament “talay”, not sanctioned by the CESAFI.
He tried out for the Sharks which impressed the coaching staff thus making him as one of its new acquisitions who will already have the Cebu Province as their LGU partner.
Jerome Calatrava, the team spokesman explained, the team wanted to represent the entire Cebu hence from Cebu City Sharks, it is now Cebu Province.
Governor elect Gwen Garcia through her son Paolo and another representative has already met with the Sharks team officials and agreed that the International Pharmaceuticals Inc. (IPI) owned team would carry the name of Cebu Province as their LGU partner.
IPI Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Dennis Wong is very optimistic of the new team composition.
“We are the team to reckon with this season,” Wong said when asked for his assessment of the team.
Wong gave a pep talk to the players which still has the Mandaue City resident Patrick Cabahug as one of their nucleus.
Cabahug (6’2) said Poligrates will bring stability on the team for his vast playing experience and they now have more offensive options unlike in the previous season where the team relied so much on him.
“Big factor siya kay nakadugang siya sa among team karun kay we need a veteran point guard kay duna siyay experience as a pro,” Cabahug remarked.
To bolster their ceiling, the Sharks hired two new big men, 6’6 Christian Pamulaklakin out of Letran Knights and power forward Fletcher Galvez (6’3) who decided to waived his last playing year for the University of San Jose Recoletos (USJR) in the CESAFI and suit up for the Sharks instead.
Aside from head coach Norberto “Titing” Manalili, the Sharks has also hired Bryan Ilad as their big-man coach which according to the 6’4 William Bill McAloney is a big help to them.
“That way we can be train on how to move effectively in the paint, then also on how to make outside shots, box-out and rebounds, a lot,” McAloney said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
“This is a better team than what we had in the last season. This is a balance team and I am confident that we can make it this time,” Manalili said who was also joined by Omega Pro-Sports International (OPSI) President Pio Paulo Castillo in the press launch held at the IPI head office in Mabolo.
The rest of the line up for the Sharks are as follows; Michael Cenita (5’9- new player), Antonio Jeffrey Coronel (6’2-new player), Harold Cortes (5’10), Ralph Jude Dinolan (6’0), Edrian Lao (6’4), Joel Christian Lee Yu (5’10), Jaybee Mantilla (5’7), Victor Nunez (5’11), Rhaffy Octobre (6’4), Gayford Rodriguez (6’3), John Reel Saycon (6’1-new player), Nichole John Ubalde (6’1-new player) Kevin Villfranca (6’5), Jan Philip Villaver (6’3) and Kraniel Villoria (6’1- new player).
The Sharks was only good for an 8th place finish in the South Division of the recent Datu Cup where the San Juan Knights of the North Division emerged as the national champion of the 26 participating teams that participated in the league founded by Sen. Manny Pacquiao./Tonton Alcos Antogop