THE Negros Muscuvados will be fielding a lineup made up mainly of homegrown talents when they join the MPBL (Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League) Mumbaki Cup targeted to open on June 12.
According to team owner John Gilbor, 10 Negrenses have been signed up while negotiations are ongoing for 10 more players to beef up the roster aiming to make the playoffs in their initial stint in the regional league.
Gilbor, owner of Silvergraces Construction and Construction Supply in Pontevedra and Bacolod City, said he envisions the Muscuvados to be composed of 70 percent Negrenses.
"I want to promote local talents of Negros, encourage the youth to strive hard to make it to the MPBL and show their mettle on national TV," said Gilbor, also the general manager of the Muscovados co-owned by his father Engr. Bernabe Gilbor.
The Muscovados will be the third MPBL team from Western Visayas and 32nd overall. The Iloilo United Royals and the Bacolod Master Sardines joined the 2019 MPBL Chooks-to-Go Lakan Season which got completed only last March in a bubble setup in Subic.
The Davao Occidental Tigers emerged champion after besting the San Juan Knights, 3-1, in the National Finals.
With team scrimmages still disallowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gilbor said his wards are doing individual training in the meantime.
Bacolodnons Jafet Claridad, Francis John Pareno, Jeric Adorio, Janus Calma, Jaycee Adjei, Rolly Jaca, and Christopher Menguez are in the fold with Binalbagan's Patric Dave Yulo, Sagay City's Ritcher Santillan and Canlaon City's Jonathan Gantalao Jr.
Menquez and Claridad have MPBL experience while Adorio was a former star of the Jose Rizal University Light Bombers.
Joining them is former Cebu Shark Alfred Codilla. Gibor said they will be signing up more big men soon.
Tapped to coach the Muscovados is Jerome Aledron of the UNO-R (University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos). He will be assisted by the University of San Agustin's Joephil Cercado, Edmund Sibaya, Ireneo Morales and conditioning coach Jay Divinagracia.
The Muscovados are looking to uphold the winning tradition of the Negros Slashers of the defunct MBA (Metropolitan Basketball Association).
There are also a number of Negrense players who have had good careers in the PBA, among them two-time MVP James Yap and Jeff Chan.
Gilbor met with Sen. Manny Pacquiao, MPBL COO and founder, on February 8 to formalize their entry to the league.
If the national health situation doesn't improve, the MPBL is looking at returning to Subic for its fourth season.