TEAMS from Pagadian and Iligan are girding for their respective campaigns in the soon-to-start Mindanao leg of regional basketball league VisMin Super Cup.
Pagadian, which will parade a team known as the Explorers, will make its return to regional basketball competition after a decade while Iligan pins its tournament bid on homegrown talents collectively known as the Archangels.
The Explorers were one-time finalists in the National Basketball Conference before competing in Liga Pilipinas during the late 2000s.
They are seeking to have the same success now in the VisMin Cup in reviving the team.
“Before, we already had a team. I don’t know what happened because I was out of politics for six years. Right now, I have another first term and I made sure to revive a team,” said Pagadian mayor Sammy Co of the decision to assemble another squad.
He said they hope the team would serve as an inspiration for their citizens, especially the youth, to keep themselves active and healthy and stay away from drugs.
Through the league also, they want to promote Pagadian City and showcase what the place has to offer.
Bannering the Explorers is 6-foot-6 Mark Benitez, who previously played for Rizal-Xentro Mall during the 2019-21 Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan Cup.
Head coach is Harold Sta. Cruz while team manager is Dodong Pamaran.
Meanwhile, Iligan will boast 12 natives out of 13 players in its roster.
According to team manager Amador Baller, Mayor Celso Regencia made sure to have an all-homegrown squad so that the province’s youth will be able to relate with the team.
“Iligan is very active in sports. It’s part of our campaigns here that will encourage the youth to get into sports and not into drugs,” said Mr. Baller, who is also the sports coordinator for the province.
Headlining the team is 6-foot-2 swingman Jericho Montecalvo, who at just 20 years old will be the youngest player in the competition.
“We expect them to perform well in the upcoming tournament,” said Mr. Baller. “Some of our players played in the MPBL while others are varsity players in known universities. Almost the entire team is from Iligan. We got them so that the kids will look up to them.”
The VisMin Super Cup Mindanao leg will kick off on May 30 with Chooks-to-Go as presenting partner. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo