Mandaluyong and Marikina, two teams expected to draw much attention in the coming season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, will get their baptism of fire when the fastest growing regional basketball league opens on June 12 at the Araneta Coliseum.
Known as the El Tigre, Mandaluyong will be beefed up by members of Alab Pilipinas, led by Ray Parks and JP Alabanza.
The team will face Muntinlupa in the main game at 9:30 p.m. right after the 7:30 p.m. encounter between Marikina and General Santos City, two other expansion squads of this event put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao with PBA legend Kenneth Duremdes serving as commissioner.
Parks, the second generation cager, who spearheaded Alab Pilipinas' triumph in the recent Asean Basketball League, will be the face of the franchise of Mandaluyong.
Touted as the potential top overall pick in next season's PBA Rookie Draft, Parks will be using the MPBL, a league that has drawn so much attention from people from people from all walks of life, as a platform to showcase himself in front of a bigger audience.
Also joining Parks in Mandaluyong is Alabanza, a 6'5” frontliner, former La Salle stalwarts Prince Rivero and Thomas Torres and ex-pros Mac Andaya and Jeff Javillonar, former MPBL stalwarts who decided to join the El Tigre's lair after suiting up for different teams in the inaugural staging Anta Rajah Cup won by the Batangas City Athletics-Tanduay.
But while all eyes will be focused on Parks, another popular personality is expected to catch the attention of the audience.
Celebrity baller Gerald Anderson will spearhead the Shoemasters of Marikina as the squad faces the General Santos City Warriors.
A solid ball player, Anderson was supposed to play commercial league when he was discovered by Pinoy Big Brother of ABS-CBN several years ago.
But Anderson didn't stop from playing and would continue competing from time to time in different recreational leagues.