WHEN the GenSan Warriors made their debut in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Datu Cup on Independence Day at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, one of the players who played his first game at the Big Dome was Leomer Losentes.
In his college days, Losentes played in Metro Manila for St. Francis of Assisi College but never got the opportunity to play in bigger arenas like the Araneta Coliseum.
Now 33, Losentes finally got that chance in the MPBL.
“Opo first time,” said Losentes, a former teammate of Ranidel De Ocampo, Ervin Sotto, and Al Vergara during the heyday of the Doves in college. “Masaya kasi siyempre, lahat gusto makalaro doon.”
Losentes is just one of the players who were given an opportunity to play on the bigger stage in the MPBL. Losentes had played in the defunct Philippine Basketball League (PBL), playing for Magnolia and San Mig Coffee as well for Mandaue in Liga Pilipinas. After both leagues went under, Losentes decided to return home to Cateel, Davao Oriental where he continued playing in ligang labas in Mindanao and Visayas.
Losentes said he was able to support himself and his family by playing in ligang labas where he is a sought-after player, getting paid as much as P10,000 in one tournament.
“Mga 10 years din,” said Losentes. “Dati po sa PBL, Liga Pilipinas ako. Bumalik ako sa province, nag-ligang labas ako. Hanapbuhay ko na po.”
“Malakas naman po ‘yung ligang labas. Walang pahinga, tuluy-tuloy,” Losentes added.
The opportunity to play in the MPBL was simply too good to resist for Losentes.
“Iba po kasi ‘yung MPBL, may sistema na tapos ‘yung mga kalaban, hindi basta-basta. Walang petiks. Kailagan 100 percent, ibigay lahat. (Sa ligang-labas) kanya-kanya lang,” Losentes said.
Losentes is adjusting to the MPBL pace quickly. This season, Losentes is averaging 16 points, 2.67 rebounds, and 4.33 assists for the Warriors in their debut campaign in the fledging league.
More than the offense, though, Losentes said the Warriors are more focused on defense, feeding on an underdog mentality in each game.
“Every practice lang depensa ang pinaghahandaan namin kasi underdog kami. Every game, ‘yung chance (na manalo) habol namin kaya depensa lagi kami,” said Losentes.
Losentes said he's taking a sabbatical from ligang labas games to focus on his MPBL opportunity.
“Hindi na,” said Losentes, when asked if he will play in ligang labas. “Focus muna ako sa MPBL.”
As for a chance to play in the PBA, Losentes said “Si Lord na po bahala. Basta gagawin ko ‘yung best ko.”