Zark's owner raises bar after quick D-League transformation from chump to champ
Zark's Burgers' partnership with Lyceum paid off well with the PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup title. Dante Peralta

BEING in the world of business, Zark’s Burger owner Rolandrei Viktor “Commie” Varona isn’t foreign to the idea of building a winning culture from the bottom up.

It is most evident now as after years as a budding team owner, he has finally formed a championship team in the PBA D-League.

Varona’s journey as a team owner stems from his passion for sports, and he certainly didn’t start at the top. From forming winning teams in small, recreational leagues to enduring a generally forgettable season as he took a jump to the D-League, Varona sure has experienced a lot in such a short time as a team owner.

But that same competitive drive which pushed his business to one of the more recognizable burger joints in the country pushed him to the top of the PBA D-League.

“Passion ko rin kasi talaga ang basketball, ng sports. Competitive din ako,” said Varona as his team became just the seventh squad to be crowned as champions in 14 D-League conferences.  

“Parang business yan e, di pwedeng pwede na to. Kailangan magimprove lagi. Buti naman from a losing season, nag-champion,” he added.

Varona further explained the advantages of being an owner with ambition. From winning just a single game in their debut in the Foundation Cup in 2017, he knew that he needed a jolt to change the culture of the team—one he found in NCAA finalist Lyceum.

“Yung principle namin how we run the basketball team is the same principle on how we run our business. Nagsimula kami from maliit, dahan dahan kami nakaangat,” Varona continued.  

“Mi-nold namin yung future, sa tulong ng LPU, narating namin. Maganda yung culture namin parehas, nag-jive kaagad,” he added.

Choosing the Pirates as their partners was pretty much a no-brainer. Aside from being a winning team already, having that remarkable run in NCAA Season 93, Varona also sees the similarities between how head coach Topex Robinson built this team to how Zark’s grew its brand.

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“Parang parehas nga yung history namin ng LPU. Kasi before sila nag 18-0, losing din sila e. After a year na-turn around nila, kami na-turn around din namin ngayon,” Varona said.

“Then (nung clincher) down sila ng 14 points, di nag-give up. Wala akong masabi. Very proud of this team. Ang ganda ng character. I’m sure madadala nila yun sa NC and sa mga ibang liga.”

It’s fairly early to tell, and to some it might even be farfetched for now but Varona isn’t about to stop dreaming.

Now that they’ve proven that they can be winners in the Developmental League, he now sets his sights on maybe one day owning a team in the PBA.

“Hopefully ituloy tuloy namin, sana balang araw makapag-PBA.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @CAJacinto11