ADD the Pagadian Explorers to the list of teams vying in the Mindanao leg of the 2021 Pilipinas Vis-Min Super Cup starting May 30.
To be bannered by veteran Mark Benitez and CJ Pamaran and handled by coach Arnold Sta. Cruz, the Explorers hope to make an immediate impact in their return to local basketball scene.
Pagadian Mayor Sammy Co said the Explorers, one-time finalists in the National Basketball Conference (NBC) and a regular campaigner in the Liga Pilipinas over a decade ago, vowed to make their presence felt in the country’s first-ever professional basketball league in the South.
“We already had a team before. I don’t know what happened because I was out of politics for six years. But right now, I have another term and I made sure to revive our basketball team,” said Co, who tapped the likes of former PBA star Nelson Asaytono and Elbert Alberto during their time with the NBC and Liga.
“It would really help our youth and encourage them to spend their time to play the games,” he added.
Benitez, a 6-foot-6 veteran who previously played for Rizal-Xentro Mall during the 2019-21 MPBL Lakan Cup, will be the team’s go-to-guy.
Joining him are Arellano transferees Pamaran and Rich Guinitiran, who already secured their special guest licenses from the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) last April 8; and Keanu Caballero, who saw action for Taguig in the National Basketball League.
Completing the team are Orvelle Saludsod, John Edros Quimado, Arman Demigaya, Kenneth Singedas, Elizalde Sunogan, Kenth Baldeo, Kem Jhon Diva, Von Dechos, Ruben Caballero, Jehzreel Acaylar, Jeric Serrano, Rex Quilo, Christian Manalo, Rey Bolotaolo, Godfred Helido, and Jan Villaver.
Team manager is Dodong Pamaran.
“One of the main reasons we are joining the Vis-Min Cup is to promote our province and the people. Of course, we want to win but in sports, alam naman natin na may nananalo at natatalo. We just want the players to play our best,” said Co about his modest goals in the league.
Aside from putting up a competitive team, Co also made a bid to host the grand finals of the league set this August.
He wants the Vis-Min Super Cup to be the league that would be the first team that would play in their newly-constructed gym in Plaza Luz.
“We have a newly-constructed venue. Sana yung Vis-Min yung maka-break in sa court natin.”