EGAY Macaraya knows that City of Valencia Bukidnon-SSC-R has a mountain to scale this 2019 PBA D-League season.
But rather than be overcome with fear, the veteran mentor welcomes the challenge for his young Golden Harvest squad as they try to make noise in the 20-team field.
"We know we're underdogs here. Alam naman na wala kaming import plus marami kaming bago. But yung program namin, even if kung ano man ang maging outcome, win-win situation ito sa amin," he said.
Allyn Bulanadi and RK Ilagan will be tasked to lead the Valencia Bukidnon-SSC-R crew, which will also feature transferees like Ramil Tero and Emmanuel Bonleon.
That's why this early, Macaraya is excited on the potential of the Golden Harvest.
"Maraming akong rookies, but these are not really rookies. Ito yung mga nag-residency," he said as he puts an end to what has been a forgettable campaign last year.
San Sebastian athletic director Fr. Glynn Ortega added: "For the past years, we're trying to build up the image of San Sebastian at masaya kami na naka-attract din ng possible sponsors. Nakita nila na maganda pa rin ang tinatakbo ng team despite the distraction."
Macaraya's confidence is also rooted from the support the men's basketball program is having, with City of Valencia, Bukidnon and Peltans Construction all chipping in to help the school.
And for these sponsors, they are just hopeful that these partnership will bear fruit in all fronts.
"We're very happy to have this partnership to promote the City of Valencia and its plans on a national level. We're confident that this will boost our sports development program," said Valencia councilor Dr. Policarpo Murillo IV, who will serve as the team manager.
"Malaking tulong ito on all sides, to the PBA to connect sa Mindanao, for San Sebastian na may matitingnan na sila na pool for talents especially for basketball and volleyball, and for the province, not just in Valencia but also Bukidnon in totality," added Golden Harvest assistant team manager Rudirex Ampo. "We're one of the most progressive cities in Mindanao and we feel its the proper time to introduce Valencia City nationally."
"Yung konting tulong na inalok namin, masaya naman kami na tinanggap nila ng maluwag," said Peltans Construction president Engr. Ramil Ranara. "Challenging sa amin, pero i-try natin."
City of Valencia Bukidnon-SSC-R is slotted in the Foundation Group, where it will wage war against Chadao-FEU, SMDC-NU, Metropac-San Beda, Perpetual, Diliman College-Gerry's Grill, CEU, The Masterpiece-Trinity, Marinerong Pilipino and Wangs Basketball.
Regardless of the Golden Harvest's finish, San Sebastian president Fr. Nemesio Tolentin is just hopeful that this partnership will serve as an inspiration to entice young ballers, especially from those in Bukidnon and down south, to continue dreaming through sports.
"This is not just a step to the PBA, but to also encourage young people to involve themselves into sports activities," he said.
Macaraya says the team will give it their all every game in this PBA D-League foray.
"We will always play every game na parang last game namin. Gusto ko makita yung improvement. Magandang start ang D-League para sa mga players namin kasi dito ma-build ang character. Hopefully, yung program namin maging successful. Mahirap man, at least nasubukan ng mga bagong players namin."