Former players push for revival of commercial leagues for more exposure to Cebu cagers
Former PBL and Liga Pilipinas player Mark Ababon hopes for a revival of Cebu's commercial leagues.

CEBU CITY - Days after the 2017 Cebu City Mayors Cup Commercial Basketball Tournament wrapped up, the city’s basketball scene has reverted to being idle once more – a state that is lamented by some of Cebu’s most experienced and decorated players. 

Tournament MVP Mark Jonas Ababon rued the lack of competitions for today’s crop of Cebuano ballers, who, after exhausting their collegiate eligibility, quickly resort to barnstorming different leagues – an act more commonly known as “panalay” – around the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

From leagues in Leyte to Zamboanga, from Bohol to even Marawi City, Cebu's cagers have played in them all. Ababon says that that shouldn't have been the case if Cebu had stable competitions.

“It’s important that the basketball scene in Cebu be brought back. Yung mga players, diretso na lang sa panalay after they’re done playing for their schools,” said Ababon, a former stud of the University of the Visayas who had the benefit of playing in Cebu’s commercial leagues – the Cebu Basketball Federation, the Cebu Basketball Association and the Cebu Basketball League – during his time.

“Being able to play in those leagues really made a huge difference in my career. It was a stepping stone for me to eventually play in the PBL (Philippine Basketball League) and the Liga Pilipinas,” the former Granny Goose player added.

Ababon said that he hopes that today’s batch of basketball players would be able to experience playing in different leagues apart from the Cesafi. This summer alone, while players in Metro Manila enjoy many options with preseason and summer competitions, Cebu City has had zero tournaments for its collegiate cagers.

“Our players here, they’re very talented. But without the benefit of having tournaments here in Cebu, they’re forced to play-for-pay alongside us old guys. Sayang lang,” Ababon noted.

Janjan Auditor, another collegiate standout who’s a regular on the “panalay” scene, said Cebu City should have more competitions in the city itself than the surrounding provinces, not the other way around.

“Sayang ang mga local players here in Cebu. They have a lot of potential but just lack both experience and exposure. We’re supposed to be the hoops hotbed outside of Manila but sadly, there are far more tournaments being held in the provinces than here in the city itself,” observed Auditor, who suited up and won a title playing with current PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo at the University of Cebu.


“If only more leagues were established, it would go a long way towards helping players out here in the hopes of getting them to the next level,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @ForgetAboutJay