By Jerome Lagunzad
7 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies
8 p.m. – Parañaque vs Caloocan
At 39 years old, former pro league star Gary David feels he’s still far from being a spent force.
That’s why the four-time PBA scoring champion couldn’t help but be excited to continue his basketball journey as he suits up for his home province of Bataan in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League that finally gets off the wraps this week.
“Hangga’t nararamdaman ko pa naman na kaya ng katawan ko, maglalaro at maglalaro pa rin talaga ako,” said the product of Dinalupihan, Bataan who’s expected to lend his prestige and experience in the home-and-away tournament which is a brainchild of Senator Manny Pacquiao.
“Tapos ngayon na maglalaro pa ako para sa Bataan, talagang magiging masaya ‘to. Excited na nga talaga ako kasi makakatulong rin ako magbigay ng mga tips sa mga batang teammates ko na mga kababayan ko rin naman.”
Aside from David, who last suited up for Mahindra Floodbuster (now Kia Picanto) last year, the Defenders will also bring in former Perpetual Help guard Kiel Misa and Far Eastern University stalwart Arvie Bringas, with former Tamaraw Jay Sierra calling the shots.
Standing in their way are nine other solid teams from Parañaque, Valenzuela, Batangas, Caloocan, Muntinlupa, Quezon City, Imus, Navotas and pre-season champion Bulacan.
“Ito ay liga para sa lahat ng Pilipino,” league commissioner Kenneth Duremdes said during the tourney’s press briefing yesterday at the Annabel’s Restaurant in Tomas Morato, Quezon City.
Also present were Arnold Vegafria, MPBL head of production and marketing; Zaldy Realubit, chief of operations; Bai Cristobal, technical head; Satar Macantal, deputy commissioner, and; ABS CBN Integrated Sports chief Dino Laurena.
“Ito ‘yung magiging springboard ng mga promising players na makarating sa PBA. And who knows? Baka ma-discover rin sila para sa national team,” added Duremdes, 43, a one-time pro league MVP in 1998.
Raising the curtains for the three-month long tourney is the opening day showdown between Parañaque Patriots and Caloocan Supremos on Thursday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.