A LEAGUE that is a micro version of the long-sought regional basketball tournament is gaining ground in Palawan.
The Palawan Basketball Association (PaBA) has proven to be a resounding success in the province as 11 municipalities took part in the inaugural season.
A brainchild of former Coca-Cola Tigers governor JB Baylon, PaBA is aimed at providing high quality games for the Palawenos competing in a league patterned after the PBA but has a home-and-away format like the NBA.
“League ito para sa mga Palaweno involved ang mga local government units, LGU-based ang mga teams, kita mo naman mga reaksyon ng mga tao,” said Baylon, now a vice-president for corporate communications for a Palawan-based mining firm.
“Overwhelming talaga ang response ng tao, nakaka-enganyo to see the players compete against other towns,” he said."
To make the two-division inter-town league more interesting for the participants, sponsors Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation and Coral Bay Nickel Corporation dangled a P1 million worth of two-classroom school buildings for the winning municipality plus P100,000 cash prize for the winning team.
The runner-up will receive a one-classroom school building worth P500,000 plus cash for the team.
“Natutuwa po kami kasi ang ganda po ng paliga nila, dahil hindi lang po trophy ang pinaglalabanan namin. Lumalaban din po kami para sa mga kababayan namin at munisipyo,” said Narra town team coach Jovit Constantino, whose under-23 and senior teams move to the finals of their respective divisions.
“Sana po magtuloy-tuloy na ito at sana may madiskubre po ulit kami na basketball players rito. Sana magtuloy-tuloy na ito,” said the coach, adding former Tanduay Rhum Master Oliver Agapito hails from his town of Narra.
The games, which are held mostly in concreted open-air hard courts were warmly received by the town folk.
“Syempre po kailangan all out kami sa pag-support sa team namin, kasi po classroom buildings para sa anak namin ang magiging produkto pag nag-champion,” said Rebbie Galang, a native of Brooke’s Point but was in Narra with her relatives to support her municipality’s cagers.
“Sayang nga po, natalo yung dalawang teams namin sa Narra, so bawi na lang kami. Sana yung consolation na one classroom, makuha na lang namin,” she added.
See highlights of the Narra-Brooke’s Point seniors semifinal clash:
Aside from the basketball league, Baylon also bared that training and clinics will also be conducted in Palawan by former PBA players like Kenneth Duremdes, Gerard Francisco, Ronjay Enrile, Cesar Catli, and Francis Allera among others to hone the basketball talent of the Palawenos.
“Tuloy-tuloy ang programs namin. We don’t just start and end with the liga. We want a continuous program of basketball here. Who knows, we can see the next PBA superstars come out of Palawan,” said Baylon who also introduced the YoungStars league in the PBA.
The former PBA vice chairman revealed a bigger tournament in being lined up for next year involving more municipalities from the 23 towns of Palawan.
“It’s a challenge for us to make it bigger and also involve other island towns of Palawan like Coron and Busuanga next year,” said Baylon, who is also sponsoring a PBA benefit game in Puerto Princesa City on October 10.
“We hope other companies from other provinces would see the value of the PaBA. Alam mo naman galing tayo sa PBA, I know the value of basketball, kaya dinala natin dito sa Palawan."