7 p.m. -- FEU-NRMF vs. Wang’s Ballclub
TWO more teams -- Far Eastern University-NRMF and Wang’s Ballclub -- make their debuts today in the 2016 MBL Open basketball tournament at the Aquinas gym in San Juan.
Odds are about even in the 7 p.m. encounter between FEU-NRMF, a team built around former PBA stars and collegiate standouts, and Wang’s Ballclub, a team composed of fast-rising stars honed in various commercial leagues.
All eyes will be on former PBA Rookie of the Year Marlou Aquino and several other PBA legends raring to return to the hardcourt and give it one more try in this tournament sponsored by Smart Sports, Ironcon Builders, Star Bread, Dickies Underwear and Gerry’s Grill.
The 6-9 Aquino, who is best remembered as one of the league’s most dominant big men from 1996 to 2011, will banner a star-studded team that also include ex-PBA players Arnold Gamboa, Egay Billones, Francis Adriano, Al Vergara and Eric Rodriguez and Cray Crellin, Edwin Asoro, Dexter Zamora and Guy Essono.
Gamboa played eight years for Sta. Lucia, San Miguel and Purefoods; Billones suited up for eight seasons with Purefoods, Talk N Text and Air21; Adriano saw action for seven years with Sta. Lucia, San Miguel and Red Bull; Vergara played four seasons for Purefoods, Barako Bull and Globalport; and Rodriguez played three seasons for Air21, Meralco and Ginebra.
FEU-NRMF, however, will get an early big test against Wang’s Ballclub.
Handled by MBL chairman Alex Wang and coach Pablo Lucas, Wang’s Ballclub is topbilled by veteran Mar Reyes, brothers John and Jeff Montemayor, Rey Publico, Mark Montuano, Cedric Labingisa, Macky Acosta, Billy Afable and Jason Perez.
The Mandaluyong-based team earned a lot of respect with its strong showings in both the PBA Developmental League and the FilSports Basketball Association.
The Wang’s Ballclub-supported AMA University Titans of coach Mark Herrera and assistant coaches Benjie Diswe and Bobby Andaya also finished a strong runner-up to Diliman College-Gerry’s Grill in the 2015 MBL Open.
Last Sept. 10, defending champion Macway Travel Club brought down New San Jose Builders, 90-74, to launch its bid for back-to-back title on a high note.
Former Lyceum standout Pol Santiago, ex-PBA mainstays Bonbon Custodio and Nino Marquez, Jemal Vizcarra and Mark Fampulme provided the firepower for Macway, which is seeking a fitting follow-up to its title campaign in May 2016.
Santiago scattered 15 points while Custodio and Marquez contributed 11 points for Macway, which is now being handled by player-turned-coach Daniel Martinez..
Anthony Sulit is the commissioner.