SEVERAL of Cebu’s finest young players expressed their simple wish for 2020: to have more commercial tournaments to play in so that they may further develop their skills and confidence.
Long considered to be the premier hoops hotbed in the south, Cebu City has gone through a drought in past years especially when it came to staging commercial basketball tournaments. Players and basketball fans alike, however, were treated to a weeklong hoops extravaganza with the staging of the Mayor Edgardo Labella Christmas League a few weeks ago, which drew the who’s-who of Cebu basketball.
The roster of players that competed in the tournament included the likes of NLEX’s JR Quinahan, the MPBL’s Cedric Abalaza and Marvin Hayes, Cebuano hoops legend Dondon Hontiveros, UAAP players Patrick Yu, John Galinato and Royce Mantua as well as a slew of former and current Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) players led by Most Valuable Player Shaquille Imperial and Mythical Five members Darrell Shane Menina and Isaiah Blanco.
After getting a taste of the action, a number of Cebu’s best young players want more.
“It’s important for us basketball players to experience playing with high-caliber players,” said Menina, who helped lead Journey to Recovery to the title in the Mayor Edgardo Labella tournament. “It’s an opportunity for me to learn from mature and experienced basketball players.”
Menina said having more tournaments like this would give local players the chance to become better and more confident.
“I want to play with high-caliber players. We get the chance to learn how to play season basketball,” he added.
Blanco, who got to play with his father, Dondon Hontiveros, for Fighter 50 Wine, echoed Menina’s sentiments.
“More tournament are important, because we get to learn, especially with them having played at different and big leagues. These players have the experience and learnings. They can teach us a lot of things,” said Blanco.
Blanco, a high school standout for the University of Cebu, added that he even got his fair share of scolding from the veterans, but he was more than happy to receive them.
“It was a cool experience overall to be on the court with Kuya JR (Quinahan), Kuya Marvin (Hayes) and Papa (Hontiveros),” he said. (JNP)