FORMER NCAA standouts make a homecoming of sorts as the PBA holds a rare playdate at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan on Wednesday.
A handful of former college stars who saw action in the oldest collegiate league in the Philippines take the court at the NCAA's unofficial home when the PBA holds a doubleheader featuring Phoenix against Meralco at 4:15 p.m. before GlobalPort and Blackwater face off at 7 o’clock.
Former San Beda stars Art dela Cruz and Kyle Pascual, and former Arellano standout John Pinto of the Elite take on the Batang Pier who have Jessie Saitanan of Mapua and injured Anthony Semerad also of the Red Lions.
Phoenix has Arellano’s Prince Caperal, John Wilson and Marvin Hayes of Jose Rizal University, an San Sebastian’s Michael Miranda, while the Bolts have San Beda alumni Baser Amer and Anjo Caram and former College of St. Benilde star Jonathan Grey.
“Nakaka-miss. Excited na nga ako maglaro dun,” said Pinto, who played three years for the Chiefs. “Nag-uusap kami nila Art at Kyle na parang homecourt.”
It will be the first time the league holds a playdate at the 5,000-seat venue in two seasons or since it held a doubleheader that saw Manny Pacquiao making an appearance for Kia in a Commissioner's Cup game.
Pinto, however, insisted they hardly have an advantage despite having familiarity with the floor.
“Hindi naman siguro (advantage),” the Davao native said. “Perehas lang naman, pero nakaka-miss lang yung San Juan.”
For the former UAAP stars who hardly saw action at the Arena in San Juan, there will also be no feeling-out phase, GlobalPort coach Franz Pumaren believes.
“Hindi naman siguro (maninibago),” the former La Salle coach said. “They’re all professionals, so I think they’ll be fine.”