MANILA, Solid San Juan and new team Bacoor have been billed as the prohibitive favorites as many former pro players see action on Sunday together with a number of imports when six teams make their debut in the Metro League Reinforced (2nd) Conference at the San Juan Gym.
Home team Solid San Juan takes centerstage in the main game at 4 p.m. when it hosts Pateros-Metro Asia in the opening day of the tournament backed by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the PBA with Barangay 143 as league presentor.
Before that, debuting Bacoor will be tested by Pasigueño in the 1 p.m. appetizer followed by a collision between Manila Stars and Caloocan Supremos at 2:30 pm.
The M-League allows each team an option to parade an import this conference to add spice and excitement to the 10-team competition that seeks to discover more grassroots talent and promote sports among National Capital Region and Mega Manila cities.
Spearheading the set of reinforcements are San Juan’s Raymond Miller Jr. who played for California State Fullerton in US NCAA. He went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft but has been making noise in the Indonesian Basketball League.
Former Arellano U Standout Michael Canete and returning NCAA juniors all-time single-game scoring record holder Joshua Saret are also all in for San Juan which looms as a heavy favorite against the import-less Pateros.
Trooping into the battle without a reinforcement, Pateros-Metro Asia will solely lean on former CSB Blazer Jeffrey Ryan Ongteco and new head coach Ariel Capus.
Not to be outshone is the duel between star-studded Manila Stars and Caloocan Supremos.
Former PBA players Joseph Yeo, Ronnie Matias and Carlo Lastimosa lead the Stars with Lyceum standout Ian Alban with Moustaph Arafat serving as reinforcement.
They will be up against D-League stalwards Johnnel Rey Bauzon, Joseph Brutas and import Abdoulaye Niang of the Supremos.
Though a newbie in the league, Bacoor is leaving no stone unturned with a formidable lineup led by former San Miguel Beerman Michael Mabulac, former UAAP cagers Dawn Ochea (Adamson) and RJ Ramirez (FEU) with former Tamaraws slotman Prince Orizu serving as reinforcement.
Standing in their way are former San Mig Coffee center and grand slam PBA champion Jerwin Gaco of Pasig which will also get help from former San Beda Red Lions Ryusei Koga and Eugene Toba Okwuchukwu as import of the comebacking Pasigueños.
Other teams in the tournament which has SMS Global Technologies, Inc. as official livestream & technology partner, Spalding as official ball, Team Rebel Sports as official outfitter, PLDT as official internet provider & Manila Bulletin as media partner, also boast an equally strong squads bannered by reiging All Filipino (1st) conference champion Valenzuela Workhorse which will parade former NCAA import from Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Hamadou Laminou and returns local guard John Tayontong and last conference’s leading scorer Erwin Sta. Maria.
Taguig City, meanwhile, will have former Rain or Shine player Jonathan Uyloan together with import Emmanual Ojuola.
Like Pateros, teams which also will be playing without any reinforcement are the Quezon City Juniro Capitals and Marikina which will fortunately have celebrity-athlete Gerald Anderson as well as amateur league standouts RJ Deles and Marlon Basco.