Youngsters hope to test mettle in Ballout Hoops Challenge Open

Rey Joble

Posted at Aug 17 2022 05:40 AM

Head coach Vis Valencia and University of Makati hope to test their strength against a more senior competition in the Luzon-wide Ballout Hoops Challenge Open. Handout
Head coach Vis Valencia and University of Makati hope to test their strength against a more senior competition in the Luzon-wide Ballout Hoops Challenge Open. Handout

University of Makati is one of the two school-based teams competing in the inaugural staging of the Luzon-wide Ballout Hoops Challenge Open tournament slated August 21 at the Central Recreation and Fitness Center inside New Era University.

The other team is Our Lady of Fatima University.

These two teams are out to bring that collegiate spirit in a grown men's tournament.

In the MPBL, the Herons coached by Vis Valencia were only able to bring in five players to help comprise the Makati team in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League in compliance with the rules of the Games and Amusement Board.

That's because the MPBL is a professional league. 

"Naging school-based siya sa MPBL, ’yung Makati team," Valencia told ABS-CBN News. 

"But I don't see any conflict. With MPBL, we only have five school-based players, so totally, it's not the whole University of Makati. Because we have that Games and Amusement Board rule that only one third of school-based players can participate. It's a rule.

"So if you have 15, only five is allowed. You cannot field in a whole school-based team because it's a professional league."

With the fledgling Ballout Hoops Challenge Open tournament headed by coaching legend Joe Lipa, who was designated commissioner of the tournament, the Herons will be allowed to field an all-collegiate squad. allowing them for its future collegiate tournaments.

Valencia is excited to see his boys receiving the baptism of fire when they plunge to action in the men's league, but he is also eager to see how far these young players can go in a more competitive level. 

"One is Kenz Diokno, who is playing already in the MPBL," Valencia told ABS-CBN News. "Itong bata came from Batangas. The skill level of this point guard is very high. ’Yung decision-making, of course, since bata pa, ’yun ang dini-develop namin."

Diokno has already toughened himself up in the MPBL and it won't be surprising if you see his game elevated a notch higher when he plays in the Ballout Hoops Challenge Open League.

"The expectations are not that high. Sa akin I just want to see a good performance every game, then hopefully from there, I might get lucky and get some wins," added Valencia, who coached the Quezon City Capitals previously in the MPBL. 

"The wins and losses will not be a gauge. Just to see how they react playing against men and more experienced players. ’Yun lang ang magiging basis ko muna."

Valencia is also having high hopes on his other players as they want them to step up when they play in the Ballout Hoops Open League.

"I also have Janlourd Nepomuceno, who is also playing in the MPBL. He's a wing man. Then, I also have Warren Calara, a 6-foot-5 big man from Pampanga. He's playing multiple positions," added Valencia. 

The youthful teams of UMak and OLFU will be tested when they go up against teams from the Philippine Navy, supported by Go-For-Gold, One United Club, AMA Online University, Camarines Norte-Bicol, San Mateo and ARS Warriors-Cavite.