AFTER a decade-long absence from the basketball scene, the Pagadian Explorers will be making a return, this time in the Mindanao leg of the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup.
The Explorers have a rich basketball history, having made its mark in the National Basketball Conference as well as the Liga Pilipinas in the late 2000s. Team owner and incumbent Pagadian mayor Sammy Co is eager to bring the Explorers back to the fore in the country's first-ever professional basketball league based in the south.
"Before, we already had a team. I don't know what happened because I was out of politics for six years. Right now, I have another first term and I made sure to revive a team," said Co.
"It would really help our youth and encourage them na ma-hook sa games and not ma-hook sa drugs," he added.
Headlining the team is 6-foot-6 Mark Benitez, who previously played for Rizal-Xentro Mall during the 2019-21 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Cup.
Joining him are Arellano transferees Rich Guinitiran and CJ Pamaran—both of whom already secured their special guest licenses from the Games and Amusements Board back on April 8, and Keanu Caballero, formerly of Taguig in the National Basketball League.
Completing the squad are former University of Cebu standout 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 veteran Cebuano gunner Jan Villaver.
Serving as head coach is Harold Sta. Cruz while taking the team manager role is Dodong Pamaran.
"Siyempre we want to promote our province and tell the country that there is a city called Pagadian. Also, we want to win but in sports siyempre may nananalo at natatalo. We just want the players to play our best," said Co about his modest goals in the league. (JNP)