MPBL: Homegrown Bicolanos power Volcanoes in Lakan Season
Bob Guerrero on Jul 10, 2019 05:09 PM
“The Bicol Volcanoes would not be an authentic Bicolano team if we didn't have players coming from the region.” - Team Manager Nomar Isla.
Last Monday the Bicol Volcanoes LCC Malls improved to 3-2 with a gutsy 81-78 overtime win against Imus Khaleb Shawarma GLC Truck and Equipment in the ongoing Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
Ex-pro Ronjay Buenafe led all scorers with 26 points, including five in the extension. But the son of Buhi, Camarines Sur is not the only Bicol native to suit up for the club formerly known as the Albay Volcanoes.
According to team manager Nomar Isla, 13 of the Volcanoes hail from Bicol.
Forward Peter Buenafe is also from Buhi. Justin Alfonso and Jan Earl Rodriguez come from Tabaco City in Albay. Leo Blanca is from Malinao, Albay while Mark Anthony Gandol and Alvin Milagrosa trace their roots to the shadow of Mount Mayon itself, in Legazpi City. Milagrosa had a solid ten-minute shift last Monday, chipping in five points.
Patrick Guerrero, a 6'3” forward, comes from Oas, Albay, while inside banger Haffer Mondragon is a product of nearby Daraga.
Alex Nueva and Alex Nuyles, the former PBA player and Adamson Falcon, come from Camalig, Albay. Nuyles is nursing a sore hamstring and did not play last Monday, but will likely be in action soon. Aimar Stephan Sabayo, a 6'3” center, is the lone representative from Naga City's barangay courts.
Shooting guard Jonathan Aldave, who balled for the Letran Knights in the NCAA, comes from the most remote part of Region 5, Catanduanes. Aldave had a stellar night last Monday, accounting for nine points, with two triples off six attempts.
“The Bicol Volcanoes would not be an authentic Bicolano team if we didn't have players coming from the region,” explains Isla. The team owners, Gil Orense and Mark Tan, are Bicolanos, as is head coach Moises Kallos, from Tabaco City.
In the off-season the club decided to change name from the Albay Volcanoes to Bicol Volcanoes, presumably to increase their appeal to the rest of Region 5. Back in April provincial officials, from Governor Alfranchis Bichara, Guinobatan Mayor Ann Gemma Ongjoco, board member Rey Bragais, Mayor Noel Rosal and Councilor Vince Baltazar of Albay, and Mayor Herbie Aguas of Sto. Domingo all committed their full support to the team.
“There has long been a clamor to have a Bicol team in a tournament of this magnitude,” says Isla, who also heads the basketball operations in Trace College.
“In previous leagues there was no Bicol basketball club that was ever formed. Now in the MPBL, we believe the fans will give their tremendous support as shown in our team launching last summer.”
Several Bicolanos have excelled in the field of basketball, notably Chris Cantonjos from Sorsogon, and “The Bicolano Superman,” Elpidio, “Yoyoy” Villamin from Labo, Camarines Norte.
This new breed of Bicol hoops heroes hopes to follow in their illustrious footsteps. The club has gone all out to endear themselves to local fans.
Last May they held a free clinic and an exhibition game against Caloocan in Legazpi. Both were well-attended. The team is expecting another warm reception from fans when they return to the Ibalong Center for Recreation on July 27. Their opponents, the Iloilo United Royals, can expect a torrid time as their hosts look set to defend their home court.
“We can run and gun, or we can also play deliberate or controlled basketball,” says Isla.
No matter what the style, every Volcano will surely play with that legendary “Pusong Oragon.”
The Bicol Volcanoes take on the Imus Bandera on July 11, Thursday, 4 PM. Catch the game live on S+A, iWant, the MPBL Official Facebook Page and on sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/mpbl