A TEAM of eager players from Mindanao are out to prove themselves in the Big City as they play with the Aguilas ballclub seeing action in different leagues in Metro Manila.
A total of 16 players are suiting up for the Aguilas in the 5th DeLeague in Marikina, all hoping to make it big like Cyrus Baguio, Mark Barroca, RR Garcia, Garvo Lanete, and Peter June Simon, who are all from Mindanao.
Bankrolled by Kings Janitorial Services and Cooperative of Zamboanga, the Aguilas will try to go for a better seeding as they take on unbeaten Group A leader FEU-NRMF Saturday at the resumption of the DeLeague.
Game time is at 8:30 p.m. at the Marikina Sports Park gym.
“Ang purpose namin is to join tournaments here, ang mga players na ito yung mga mahuhusay from Mindanao, we wanted them to be exposed and developed by competing in different leagues here,” said team owner Junnie Navarro.
“Gusto naming ipakita na ang mga players namin, mapa Kristyano o Muslim, pare-parehas tayo. Gusto naming ipakita na kayang magbasketball ng mga taga-Mindanao,” he added.
Some of the Aguilas players, Navarro said, are from war torn areas of Mindanao like former Adamson forward Rauf Julkilfi (Jolo), Choi Ignacio (Zamboanga), Dad Jihul (Sulu), and Abdul Wahab (Cotabato).
“They came from those devastated areas, but it did not prevent them from chasing dreams of playing professional basketball. Yun ang gusto nating tulungan,” he said.
Also playing for the Aguilas is boxing icon Manny Pacquiao’s cousin, Rene, former PBA players Jonathan Pareno, Ken Acibar ,and Mindanao league discoveries Ignacio, Christopher Concepcion, Giovanni Rublico, JerichodDe Guzman, Joma Warren, and Gino Jumao-as.
“Lahat yan discovery namin mula sa iba’t ibang liga sa Zamboanga, Davao, at Gensan,” said Navarro, a former member of the national youth team pool.
“Gusto namin ipakita na we play together and we co-exist. Wala naman talagang dapat ilagay na kulay sa pagitan ng Muslims at mga Kristyano. Akala kasi ng mga taga ibang lugar, magulo talaga eh. Hindi, it’s all about belief lang and we respect each other,” said Navarro.
The Aguilas have won two straight to even their record after a slow start.
Meanwhile, Macway Travel will try to bounce back from a sorry loss against Sta. Lucia as it faces Power Innovations Philippines in the 7 p.m. game.