A SECOND coming of the well-known Banal family is in the horizon.
At least three players from the basketball bloodline that produced former PBA player Joel, Conrad, and Koy Banal are joining this Sunday’s PBA Annual Rookie Draft at the Robinson’s Place in Ermita.
Gab Banal, son of Joel, Koy’s child Jonathan, and Frank Golla, son of their sister Kaye, are part of the 87 hopefuls who made themselves available for the first league activity heralding its 40th season.
The presence of the three in this year’s rookie batch mirrored a time in the late 70s when the defunct MICAA featured the sibling rivalry between Joel and Conrad, who played for Mapua and Ateneo, before Koy entered the scene by time for San Beda and Arellano.
“Para kaming Spartan ng basketball. Ang laki ng pamilya namin, siyam kami. May mga pinsan pa kami kaya lahat halos humawak ng bola,” Joel, the eldest of the Banal siblings, told Spin.ph.
“Kaya nagsimula ang basketball interest namin dahil `yung ancestral home namin sa Kalookan, katabi basketball court,” he said.
“Imbes na tilaok ng manok pag sa umaga, may tumalbog na bola sa court, bangon agad kami para maglaro. Ganun kami ka-addict sa basketball nun.”
Joel, who won championships both as a PBA player and coach, bared that the Banal clan can easily form up to four five-a-side teams with 20 basketball-playing members in just one outing.
“Ganun kami kadami, kaya kuyog sa amin mga dadayo sa lugar kung kumpleto kami,” he said. “May mga babae pa kami na naglalaro rin.”
Despite a huge basketball-loving family, the Banal clan still has one biggest frustration.
“Siguro yun yung hindi kami nakapaglaro sa PBA lahat,” claimed Koy, the youngest of the siblings. “Sa amin kasing tatlo na naglaro ng amateur si Joel lang ang nakapag-PBA.”
Joel rose to become of the best stoppers in the pro league, suiting up for Great Taste from 1981 to 1986.
Conrad, meanwhile, suffered a serious knee injury while playing in the MICAA after his time with the Blue Eagles, even as Koy opted to settle into a corporate job at Coca-Cola after the EDSA Revolution. Conrad is now a columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“Magulo kasi sa bansa nun. Tapos nag-asawa na ako that time, kaya napwersa ako na maghanap na lang ng trabaho,” said Koy, who later on made a basketball comeback by joining elder brother Joel as part of the Mapua coaching staff.
With the second generation Banals knocking on the PBA door, Joel feels this is the perfect opportunity for the family to make its dream a reality.
“Tingin ko may chance na matupad ang dream ng pamilya namin na magkaroon ng madaming Banal sa PBA,” said Joel. “The entry of two new (expansion) teams, there’s a big opportunity for them.
“Hopefully all of them will be picked. That’s something different. Ako lang kasi sa Banal ang naglaro sa PBA. Hopefully this generation, mangyari.”
The Banal brothers believe their off-springs are PBA materials.
Frank is an agile 6-foot-5 big man who was part of four of Ateneo’s five UAAP championships under coach Norman Black.
“Pangit lang kasi yung naging timing niya sa Ateneo kasi andun pa si Greg Slaughter nun. But I believe, Frank has what it takes to become a legit big man in the PBA,” said Joel, who was responsible for giving Talk `N Text its breakthrough title in Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league in 2003.
Gab, a former co-captain of the national youth team, is a versatile winger, who can also play the `2’ spot.
“Versatile three yan like his father (Joel), he can be a four. He can also play the off guard if needed. He is an aggressive player, very physical. Walang takot. He is a good defender, but he can score,” said Koy of his nephew.
Jonathan, for his part, is a very reliable and steady point guard with a decent outside shooting.
“Yung wisdom nung batang yan, na mana niya sa tatay niya (Koy), mataas ang IQ niyan. Si Koy kasi nung araw, very promising. Si Joel kasi during his time, utility. Si Koy at si Jonathan, may leadership,” said Boycie Zamar, Jonathan’s former coach with the Cebuana Lhullier in the D-League.
“He can be a very good addition to point guards in the PBA, he doesn’t back down on defense,” added Zamar.
The three Banals have received invitations to work out with Barako Bull, GlobalPort, and Rain or Shine ahead of Sunday's drafting at Robinsons Place in Ermita, Manila.
“Sana makuha `yung mga bata. Hindi naman namin sila isusubo na sumali sa draft pool kung mapapahiya lang ang pangalan namin,” said Koy.
“Hopefully this is the start of the Banal invasion sa PBA. Marami pa kaming mga supling na darating. Imagine mo siyam kami na magkakapatid, 70 percent ng mga anak namin, lalaki na lumalaro ng basketball,” said Joel.