The Manila Stars are tipped to make an immediate impact in the coming Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) with a roster of former PBA pros in their fold.
Roger Yap, Joseph Yeo, Larry Rodriguez, Reil Cervantes and Jerwin Gaco will banner the squad to be coached by PBA all-time great Philip Cezar.
Now 40 years old, the 6-foot Yap was a former MVP of the defunct Philippine Basketball League, while the 6-1 Yeo is a hard-nosed defender who last played for Meralco in the PBA.
Rodriguez stands 6-foot-5, Cervantes 6-foot-4 and Gaco a shade over 6-foot-3 will man the shaded lane.
The Stars of team owner Roman Ang aren’t going to be an old man’s squad, however.
Cezar also tapped the services of younger talents such as 5-foot-11 guard Chris Bitoon of National Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities (NAASCU) 3-time champion St. Claire, and Ken Acibar, a 6-foot-4 forward from University of the East.
Despite stronger rosters of the 15 new teams and the buildup of the nine other pioneer teams, MPBL Anta Rajah Cup inaugural champion Batangas-Tanduay is fielding a virtual intact team.
The Athletics reportedly lost high-flying Bong Quinto, who will suit up for Letran in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, but will have a few additions.
Team owner Lucio “Bong” Tan Jr. is contemplating seeing action for the Athletics coached by Mac Tan.
Manila, Batangas and the 23 other teams entered for the Datu Cup will officially be welcomed into the MPBL fold by founder Senator Manny Pacquiao Wednesday night at Raffles Makati.
The teams, which are bracing for a single-round robin tournament that may take 10 to 11 months, will be briefed on theleague’s guidelines, including the ruling on Fil-foreign players, as well as the format.
According to MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes and Chief Operating Officer Zaldy Realubit, they will thresh out all issues before the league opens its first full season on a national scope on June 12
The MPBL started last January with Batangas besting Muntinlupa for the title. Also entered were Valenzuela, Parañaque, Quezon City, Bulacan, Navotas, Imus, Bataan and Caloocan.
The expansion squads from Luzon are Makati, Manila, San Juan, Team Rizal, Laguna, Mandaluyong, Pampanga, Pasig, Pasay and Marikina.
Cebu City will be the lone representative from the Visayas while Mindanao will be represented by General Santos City, Davao Occidental, Zamboanga and Basilan.
The Davao Tigers topped the preseason games held recently in Polomolok, South Cotabato.