Back when I used to travel by bus from Cebu to South Cotabato during college days, I’d see the strangest basketball courts in the countryside. Rings propped up by construction equipment, basketball court on the edge of a cliff or roadside mud courts. You’d see a lot of people playing too as it was the time before cell phones and social media and idle time wasn’t spent in front of a tiny screen.
The games I happened to pass by almost always got a crowd and I’ve always thought that it was because the folks in those remote locations didn’t have anything much to do.
And since being on a bus in those days meant all you could do to entertain yourself was to let your mind wander, I’ve always wondered whether any of the guys--those playing or those watching--ever got to follow their hoops dreams and either play in the big leagues or get to watch a pro game.
This year, there’s a new tournament on the horizon that’s going to give people in Mindanao a shot at their hoops dreams. The Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup, which hopes to start this April, eyes to become the first professional league in the south and has tapped Dondon Hontiveros, one of the legends, as its ambassador.
It’s not the first league to have teams in the south, we’ve had numerous iterations before, but I think it’s the first to call itself a professional league and requires that teams have six homegrown players each.
Previous “semi-pro leagues”--a distinction that the Games and Amusements Board has shattered--simply had Manila-based college players who were out to earn a few bucks.
I see much hope in the VisMin Cup. Every town has a hoops legend and I think this could be their chance to answer that question they love to ask, “What if?” What if they get a chance to compete with the best, what if they get a shot at the pros?”
Teams are limited in the first season of course. For Mindanao, the teams are Zamboanga, Sindangan and Pagadian. It’s understandable that towns that have teams in the MPBL are sitting this one out.
Money is tight in the pandemic, we all know, and two pro teams in a town might be too much.
Is there room for another pro league? I think so. I’ve always believed that the Visayas and Mindanao need a genuine pro league featuring their own and this could be it. I hope it won’t be a one and done affair and it won’t make the same mistakes as the MPBL, when it exploded in the second season.
Good luck to the VisMin Cup, I hope you get to fulfill the hoops dreams of some.