MPBL: After giving ex PBA pros a career boost, Makati Skyscrapers are soaring

Roy Luarca

Posted at Aug 01 2018 01:50 AM

After a ho-hum stint in the PBA, Philip Paniamogan has found a home with the Makati Skyscrapers. MPBL Facebook page

ANTIPOLO—Contrary to their moniker, the Makati Skyscrapers do not tower over their opponents in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Datu Cup

Fact is, they’re one of the the shortest among the 26 competing teams.

Thus far, however, the Skyscrapers are soaring in the North Division, with 4 wins against 1 loss.

Makati head coach Cholo Villanueva tends to give all his players credit for the Skyscrapers’ rise. The former De La Salle Green Archer believes it was team effort that lifted the Skyscapers past the General Santos Warriors, 86-71, Monday night at Ynares Center here.

Pressed to name the players who have contributed greatly to the Skyscrapers’ cause, Villanueva rattled off the names of former PBA pros Jeckster Apinan, Philip Paniamogan, Rudy Lingganay and Cedrick Ablaza, not necessarily in that order.

The 6-foot-4 Apinan mans the slot for the Skyscrapers while fellow former Jose Rizal University Heavy Bomber Paniamogan takes charge of the offense with former University of the East Warrior Lingganay.

The 6-foot-3 Ablaza, whom Villanueva compares with Alaska Aces forward Vic Manuel, is the Skyscrapers’ do-it-all scrapper.

Paniamogan, a 6-foot off-guard, is currently averaging a team-high 18.4 points, followed by Apinan (14.75 points, team-high 8.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals); Ablaza (14.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks); and Lingganay (10.2 points).

Paniamogan played for GlobalPort and Kia, Lingganay was a PBA journeyman who also played in Thailand and Indonesia leagues.

Villanueva, who also saw action in the PBA with the defunct Air21 club whose franchise was acquired by NLEX, cited the quartet for lending their experience to the Skyscrapers’ younger players.

“They all deserve a call-up,” Villanueva said. “They have a legitimate chance to be back in the PBA.”

They don’t look at themselves as ex-pros.

“Kung ano ’yung ginanagawa ng homegrown (players) they do it in practice day in and day out. Walang special treatment for them and those are the leaders of my team. Kaya ’yung attitude sa mga top players going to the last men from the bench is the same,” Villanueva.

No wonder, the Skyscrapers are dotting the MPBL’s skyline.

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