MPBL: Expansion teams, new faces and stars headline Datu Cup curtain-raiser

Roy Luarca

Posted at Jun 12 2018 05:00 AM

Ray Parks Jr. (from left), actors Gerald Anderson and Xian Lim, and even Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go are on the opening-night rosters. File/Courtesy of ABL Facebook; Josh Albelda, ABS-CBN Sports; Courtesy of Xian Lim Instagram; PBA Media Bureau

Gerald Anderson, Xian Lim and SAP Bong Go on Datu Cup opening-night rosters

The looming rivalry between the Muntinlupa Cagers and Mandaluyong El Tigre adds spice to the opening of the Maharlka Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup at Araneta Coliseum Tuesday.

El Tigre and the Cagers figured in a tug-of-war for Bobby Ray Parks Jr., the most coveted local player during the offseason, before league newcomer Mandaluyong finally beating out Muntinlupa, which wound up second to Batangas Athletics in the inaugural Anta Rajah Cup.

The Cagers, supported by Angelis Resort, tinkered with their roster under coach Alsrin Morante, but will be banking more on cohesion to dampen the debut of El Tigre in the 9:30 p.m. game.

Expansion teams General Santos Warriors and Marikina Shoemasters collide in the opener at 7:30 p.m.

A parade of the 26 competing teams, along with their muses, will precede the games to be telecast live over ABS-CBN Sports + Action.

Apart from the 6-foot-4 Parks, a two-time UAAP Most Valuable Player with National University who has played in the NBA G League and two-time MVP in the ASEAN Basketball League, Mandaluyong coach Mac Cuan will bank on former pros Mark Andaya, JR Alabanza and Josan Nimes.

Other players include Jeff Javilonar and John Paul Cauilan, both from NU, Janus Lozada and Gian Lloyd Abrigo from Adamson, Prince Rivero from La Salle and Antonio Bonsubre from San Beda.

Also with El Tigre is actor Xian Lim.

The Cagers are powered by Christian Moralde, Reuben Chester Saldua, Regie Boy Basibas, Allan Mangahas, Andretti Stevens, and frontliners Chris Lalata (6-foot-5), Pari Llagas (6-foot-4), Chito Jaime (6-foot-4) and Felix Apreku (6-foot-4).

They will have to contend with the 6-foot-8 Andaya, 6-foot-5 Alabanza, 6-foot-5 Bonsubre and 6-foot-3 board crasher Rivero.

Included in the Muntinlupa lineup is Bong Go, Special Assistant to President Rodrigo Duterte.

General Santos, coached by Jesus Ramon Pido, will count on former pros Marlon Basco and Jeremy Alan Bartolo, while Marikina, under Elvis Tolentino, will lean on former pros Philip Butel and Warren Ybanez and Napier Matthew Gines.

Enlisted to draw in fans is actor Gerald Anderson.

Among the muses are actress Bea Alonzo for Marikina, Empress Schuck (Zamboanga), and beauty queens Maxine Medina (Basilan), Rachel Peters (San Juan), Angelia Ong (Manila) and Regine Angeles (Pasay).

Pacquiao is expected to fly in from GenSan, where he is training for his world title duel with Argentine champion Lucas Matthysse, in time for the opening rites.

A brand-new car and 26 motorcycles will be raffled off to paying patrons.

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.