MPBL, ‘tsansa ng mga players na maging bida’
Although he is 8 years removed from his playing days in the PBA, Marlou Aquino continues to make his presence felt in the domestic game, playing in minor leagues before being called up to join the Bulacan Kuyas in the fledgling Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
“Naglalaro pa rin ako sa mga liga-liga, sa Marikina, sa abroad with the PBA legends, napapasabak pa. Maski papaano continuous ang basketball,” Aquino, now 45 years old, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News in an MPBL game day on Thursday.
Aquino believes the MPBL is no ordinary league, almost like the PBA in terms of reach and logistics.
“Dito maganda ang liga. Televised at primetime. Live na ipinapalabas, ‘yung ibang liga minsan delayed, ito live na, nationwide pa,” he said. “Ito na ang pagkakataon ng mga bagong players na mapansin, makilala.”
Although not as nimble as before, the 6-foot-9 Aquino can still use his size to dominate in the paint.
But he doesn't rely so much on his talent anymore to contribute to the Kuyas; he's more focused on playing the role of a mentor to the younger players.
“Minsan nagbibigay ako ng advice, na kapag pinasok kayo ito 'yung tsansa na ipakita ang galing nyo. Minsan kasi ‘yung mga bata hindi pa kasi sanay na natututukan ng camera. Kailangan walang kaba,” said the former Adamson University standout who was picked first by Ginebra in the 1996 rookie draft.
Aquino was best known for his playing years with crowd favorite Ginebra, where he won numerous accolades including 3 PBA championships, 7 PBA all-star appearances, and a rookie of the year award.
Aquino pointed out the similarities between the PBA today and the MPBL.
“Sa tingin ko ang parehas 'yung pacing, kasi dito nga kasama ko mga bata pa,” said Aquino.
He said the MPBL has become an avenue for new players to show their wares. The league also gave a second chance for returning players to prove they can still perform with the best.
“Alam mo naman dito sa ‘tin maraming players na gustong maglaro. Kulang lang tayo ng liga. So isa itong malaking bagay na makalaro sila sa isang magandang liga (na) televised, live. Ito 'yung tsansa na sila ‘yung bida,” said Aquino.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)