BRIAN Ilad is back in the Philippines to play professional basketball after over a year working in Dubai.
The 32-year-old Ilad, who last saw action in the PBA D-League with Cebuana Lhuillier in 2014, will play for the Pasay Voyagers in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
Ilad said he regularly played basketball in leagues in Dubai, all the while hoping for a chance for a comeback in the Philippines.
The offer to play for Pasay, one of 16 MPBL expansion teams, came just a few weeks ago.
“Nagba-basketball din ako doon, at the same time, nagwo-work din ako. Pero hinahanap ko pa rin maglaro dito. Iba ’yung level of competition dito compared sa Dubai. Okay din ’yung offer so I decided to come back and play,” said Ilad.
The former La Salle player arrived on May 23 and joined the Voyagers’ practice the next day.
“Overwhelmed ako sa mga teammates ko at sa coaching staff na tinanggap nila ako dito although late na late na ako dumating. Nakapag-practice na sila for two or three weeks. Dumating ako very late na. At least, with open arms nila ako tinanggap sa team. Sa akin, parang blessing para sa akin,” said Ilad.
“’Yung coaching staff, pinupush nila ako na makuha ko ‘yung condition at rhythm ko,” he added.
Ilad is glad former pros like him are getting a second chance in the new leagues.
“Siyempre maraming players na nakapaglaro uli. Siyempre gift sa amin ‘yung bagong liga. Maraming teams. Thankful kami sa MPBL kasi may ganung liga,” said Ilad.
Other former professionals in the Pasay squad are Jaypee Belencion and Jan Jamon, teaming up with former collegiate players Shaq Alanes, Bobby Balucanag, Julius Cadavis and RR De Leon.
“’Yung team namin, hati siya ng mga collegiate at mga ex-pros. Sa team namin, tatlo kaming ex-pros, the rest puro collegiate na mga bata talaga. Ang maitutulong ko sa team, leadership at kapag ginamit ako, ibibigay ko 100 percent ko sa team namin,” said Ilad.