WILL San Sebastian's loss be Jose Rizal University's gain?
Speculations that former Stags basketball patron Dennis Pineda is set to shift his support to the Heavy Bombers began to circulate shortly after the former Lubao, Pampanga mayor confirmed to Spin.ph that he has parted ways with the Recto-based school shortly before Christmas.
The on of Pampanga governor Lilia Pineda himself hinted that he is in negotiations to tie up with another NCAA team, although he declined to identity of the school.
However, all signs point to Jose Rizal University as the next beneficiary of Pineda's backing, which would not only be financial but would also mean a steady stream of top-caliber recruits under the patron's wings.
In the ongoing PBA D-League Aspirants Cup, the Air21-sponsored Heavy Bombers have two San Sebastian stalwarts in their roster in Dexter Maiquez and Michael Miranda - both Pineda boys.
Allan Trinidad, a Pineda basketball consultant who handled the Stags on an interim basis last season after the resignation of Topex Robinson, is also part of Air21-JRU coaching staff of Vergel Meneses during the D-League campaign.
However Paul Supan, athletic director of JRU was quick to refute the rumors, saying Pineda has not been in touch with the school with regards to a possible partnership.
“Wala pa akong natatanggap (na information) na ganun, that they like to join,” said Supan, who only heard about Pineda’s pullout from San Sebastian when Spin.ph contacted him.
“Wala pa,” he insisted. “Wala.”
Pineda ended his five-year partnership with the school after San Sebastian informed him that it was moving in a different direction on its basketball program, ending a collaboration that has produced an NCAA title in 2009 and four other championships in major basketball tournaments.
But the exit of Pineda also meant pulling out the services of Trinidad, Maiquez, Miranda, and other members of the Stags’ Team B who were personally recruited by the former Lubao official.
Asked about the possibility of former San Sebastian players finding a new home at Jose Rizal through their PBA D-League connection, Supan said, “Meron naman kaming Arellano. He (Trinidad) is an assistant coach, but that’s for D-League only. Pero ‘yung sinasabi mong balitang ganyan, wala pa.”
Supan, however, said the possible entry of a team manager for the JRU basketball squad would ultimately be the school’s decision.
“It’s going to be the decision of the university. Nasa president ‘yan, pero sa ngayon, wala pang ganyan. Walang discussions or feelers,” said the JRU athletic director.
Supan admitted the team has several patrons who are already helping the Heavy Bombers, who last made the Final Four in 2011.