HAPEE Toothpaste is, indeed, leaving no stone unturned in its return to basketball prominence.
The Lamoiyan franchise added a champion player to its already star-studded roster by signing Troy Rosario of National University less than a week before the Fresh Fighters make their debut in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.
Team manager Bernard Yang officially announced the acquisition of Rosario, exactly a week since the power forward helped the Bulldogs end their long 60-year title drought by winning the UAAP men’s basketball championship at the expense of Far Eastern University during their sudden-death match.
“We are glad that he (Rosario) picked Hapee to be his team in the PBA D-League,” said Yang. “We are also hoping that his championship experience in the record-breaking UAAP finals will rub off on his Hapee teammates.”
The presence of the 6-foot-7 Rosario readily gives Hapee the most imposing frontline in the D-League today as he’s expected to team up with fellow new acquisition Arnold Van Opstal and Ola Adeogun.
Rosario is not promising anything to Hapee management led by owner Cecil Pedro, but vowed to give his best each game, knowing he needs to step up big in a team loaded with future PBA stars.
“Masaya po ako na nakapasok sa Hapee dahil may winning tradition sila and I want to be part of this proud team," said Rosario of the Fresh Fighters, who are making a comeback in amateur basketball following a three-year absence.
Aside from Rosario and Van Opstal, Hapee also boasts of former two-time UAAP MVP in Bobby Parks – also a former NU player – Ateneo’s Chris Newsome, and newly-crowned NCAA MVP Earl Thompson of University of Perpetual University.
Despite having a star player in every position, Joel Pedro, Hapee COO, downplayed the team’s chances, saying the team still lacks chemistry.
“We have big stars on our team but we need to translate their talents into one cohesive unit,” said the younger Pedro. “We need to have chemistry to win.”
Also expected to deliver for Hapee are veteran and Gilas Pilipinas cadet Garvo Lanete, Kirk Long, and San Beda’s Baser Amer and Art dela Cruz.