MANILA, Philippines - Global Port, the new kid on the PBA block, is dreaming of a feat that’s only been achieved once in the league’s long, colorful history.
“We have the chance to win a title on our first year,” said Global Port team owner Mikee Romero during yesterday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
Romero, winner of seven straight PBL titles with his Harbour Centre team, knows it’s not an easy task but thinks that it’s no mission impossible.
“The big question for us is will we be another Cinderella team to come out as champion? That’s the question that I pose to my team,” he said.
At 41, Romero is the youngest team owner in the PBA, and it’s hard to underestimate the way he motivates his players, his team.
“I remember our fourth title in the PBL. In the final game we were down by nine points with only 50 seconds left against Hapee. During the timeout, I told my players it was our destiny, not the other team’s.
“We won. Since then, I never lost any hope of winning. In the PBA, we are new. We’re infants. But we will still go for it. We will fight all the way. We’re hoping for that Cinderella finish,” he said.
Only Coca-Cola has won a PBA title on its first year – in 2002. Other teams struggled six to eight years before finally winning a PBA title.
“Maybe we can shorten that (wait period). But you cannot say if it’s your destiny. You’re only a Cinderella team on your first year. After that you become a regular team,” said Romero.
He came to the forum with coaches Glen Capacio and Ricky Dandan, team manager BJ Manalo, team official Erik Arejola and players Willie Miller, Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Rey Guevarra.
“We are a competitive team. Even in practice, we’re getting better every day. We have a chance to be in the semis or the finals. It’s nice to be part of this team,” said Miller, a well-traveled MVP in the PBA.
Global Port, which bought the Powerade franchise for P100 million, also has hotshot Gary David in the fold, a couple of promising rookies and old-timers out to prove their worth.
“We want to achieve great things in our maiden season. I think we’re headed toward that direction. Every single day we look for ways to improve,” said Manalo, a former collegiate star.
“This is a dream come true for us – to be part of the league. Do-or-die kami dito,” said Arejola.
On Sept. 30, when the PBA raises its curtains for its 38th season, Global Port will have the great privilege, a misfortune to some, of facing crowd-favorite Ginebra.
“Ginebra is our first game. But we’re not just preparing for Ginebra. We’re preparing for all of the teams,” said Capacio.
Romero, who sat a few seats away from his coach, smiled at the prospects of facing the crowd favorites right on opening day.
“There’s only one thing I can guarantee. We will be there fighting like tigers,” he said.