The Mandaluyong El Tigre will be among the favorite teams when the community-based Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) launches its Datu Cup on June 12 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
El Tigre battles inaugural season runners-up Muntinlupa Cagers. Expansion teams Marikina and General Santos City will clash in the other opening-day match.
Ray Parks, two-time Asean Basketball League Most Valuable Player with Alab Pilipinas and easily the most celebrated Filipino basketball player not in the Philippine Basketball Association, makes his much awaited debut for the El Tigre.
The team will be led by coach Mac Cuan who says he wants to build a team of hard workers in Mandaluyong.
“I want to build that character. I want players with persistence. No matter how hard the situation they should push through. I want a team that works as hard as it could. Hard work always beats talent. I believe that and that’s why I want players who share that mindset,” said coach Cuan.
Parks will be joined by Alab teammate JR Alabanza, former La Salle standouts Thomas Torres and Prince Rivero as well as veterans Mac Andaya and Jeff Javillonar making the El Tigre easily one of the most formidable teams in the MPBL.
Also with the team are multi-awarded actor and celebrity athlete Xian Lim and former PBA player and Bagani actor Mark Andaya.
“What I like about this team is that everybody is willing to learn. Everybody listens. Masarap sila tulungan. They come to practice every day and give their all. They could be successful in any league. Hindi lang sila nakakuha ng break,” said coach Cuan.
El Tigre will rely on much more than its star players. They will have a veteran mentor in Cuan and an effective system to work with.
“There are a lot of things that we need to do. A lot of work. Kahit papaano we’ve already started because I’ve laid the foundation for the team. My method kasi is we get better every day. So every time we step on the court to practice, we learn something,” said coach Cuan.
The MPBL has metamorphosed into the biggest basketball league in the country. From a 10-team field in the inaugural Anta Rajah Cup, there will be at least 25 teams joining the second conference, the MPBL Datu Cup, which opens on June 12.
And El Tigre—with Parks, a powerhouse bench and a veteran coach in Cuan at the helm—will definitely be among the favorite teams in the MPBL this conference.