ARIEL Vanguardia, the only Filipino head coach plying his trade in the Asean Basketball League (ABL), welcomes the news that there will be a Philippine team seeing action in the 2014 season of the regional cage meet.
“I really hope that it’s true. Anything that will be good for the ABL, I’m in favor,” said Vanguardia, the current mentor of the Westport Malaysia Dragons.
Spin.ph, quoting informed sources, first broke the news last week that the ABL is leaning towards bankrolling the campaign of a Philippine team in the coming season of the league set to open this July.
Several local companies earlier shunned the ABL’s invitation to join the league.
Among the invitees, Blackwater Sports came closest to taking the place of reigning champion and Philippine representative San Miguel Beer, which has since disbanded its ballclub.
But the acceptance of Blackwater’s PBA application officially ended the franchise’s planned move to the ABL.
Vanguardia, a former head coach of Jose Rizal University and Talk `N Text, said he is all for the biggest basketball market in Southeast Asia being represented by a team this ABL season.
He said having a Filipino squad in the ABL gives the present crop of cagers in the country the opportunity to play especially those who find it hard to land a job among the current leagues here.
“Maganda rin ang exposure sa ABL because you get to play internationally and go up against taller imports, “ said Vanguardia, whose Westport Malaysia Dragons served as the first team of San Mig Coffee rising star Justin Melton.
After seeing sparse crowds in Metro Manila during ABL games, Vanguardia also likes the idea of bringing the ABL games to the provinces.
“Okay din ‘yung plans ng Blackwater to bring the games to the provinces. I hope the new (Philippine) team will pick up the idea so that it will gain a lot of following in the provinces,” said Vanguardia.
Currently in Kuala Lumpur, Vanguardia said he plans to start the Dragons's buildup for the new season next month.
And while the ABL is still in its offseason, Vanguardia is keeping busy holding cage clinics in the Malaysian capital, being one of the coaches in the Jr. NBA Malaysia.
“We can’t wait to get the new season started,” he said.