CEBU CITY — Aspiring basketball players in the south have been given new hope as the PBA board of governors approved the creation of the D-League in Cebu City, possibly breathing life into its near-dead commercial basketball scene.
The plans for the Cebu league were discussed during the annual planning session of the PBA board of governors and league commissioner Chito Narvasa in Seoul, South Korea.
News of its approval was relayed to SPIN.ph by Southwestern University-Phinma head coach Yayoy Alcoseba and Cebu-based Batang Gilas team manager Andrew Teh, who is with the PBA delegation in South Korea.
“This is a wonderful development for Cebuano basketball players and the south’s basketball scene. It’s been far too long since we have had a commercial basketball league here in Cebu,” said Alcoseba, who led the M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Ninos in various leagues.
"We have a lot of talented basketball players here that aren’t being given the opportunity to showcase their skills because the D-League is in Manila and for one reason or another, a lot of them just don’t have the means to go there," he added.
Jun Noel, who once coached Hapee Toothpaste in the defunct Philippine Basketball League, the Negros Slashers in the Metropolitan Basketball Association and the Misamis Oriental Meteors in the Liga Pilipinas, is glad to see players in the south have new opportunities.
“At the very least, they now don’t have to go to Manila anymore and that takes a load off their shoulders. I’m excited and I’m very happy to know about this,” said Noel, currently the head coach of the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars in the Cesafi.
Noel and Alcoseba said the formation of the Cebu D-League had been in the pipeline since the time of former PBA commissioner Chito Salud but got lost in the transition to the reign of current commissioner Narvasa.
University of Cebu head coach Kern Sesante, himself a former standout in the local commercial scene, said the league should help aspiring pros become better equipped to handle playing at the next level.
“It will really help them become more skilled and more confident. The exposure and experience that they will gain from this is really important,” Sesante said.
Although University of the Visayas’ champion head coach Gary Cortes welcomed the idea of the D-League in Cebu, he still believes that the players’ best chances of reaching the pros lie in Manila.
“I welcome that development. It gives our players here a league to play in. But I still believe that the scouts will still pay attention more to the D-League in Manila. You see, they’re looking at the consistency of play from the players and they can’t get that from just looking at a few games here,” said Cortes.
As for Cebu’s finest collegiate players, they still must wait for their graduation or the exhaustion of their eligibility before they’re able to suit up in the D-League.
This was reiterated by Cesafi commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy, saying league rules prohibit players from competing in the D-League. He also added that he personally isn’t amenable to amendments to the league rules.