The Manila Stars are tipped to be strong contenders during their debut season with the fast-growing Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) as the expansion team is set to be reinforced by no less than five former PBA players.
The Stars, which will be coached by PBA Great Philip Cezar, have enlisted Jerwin Gaco, Joseph Yeo, Roger Yap, Reil Cervantes and Marcy Arellano to backstop their squad for the upcoming MPBL wars which is set to begin on June 12.
The 40-year old Yap, a 4-time PBA All-Star, won three titles with the Purefoods franchise and last saw action for the Barako Bull Energy in 2003.
Cervantes was drafted 9th overall by Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel in the 2011 PBA Rookie Draft but only stayed with the team for 1 season. He then took his act to Barako Bull before suiting up for expansion teams KIA and Blackwater. The 6-foot-3 banger out of FEU also had a brief stint with the Westports Malaysia Dragons in the ABL.
The 31-year old Arellano spent 2 years in the PBA with Rain or Shine and Air21.
Gaco won 5 PBA titles with the Purefoods franchise from 2012 to 2014 and was oftentimes referred to as the team’s lucky charm. He won 7 titles in the PBL and bagged one MVP award. The 37-year old DLSU alumnus also won an ABL championship in 2010 while playing for the Philippine Patriots.
Yeo is a 12-year PBA veteran who last played for the Meralco Bolts in 2017.
Aside from the ex-pros, the Stars are also set to showcase up and coming talents like 5-foot-11 guard Chris Bitoon of St. Claire, 6-foot-4 Ken Acibar of UE and Cesafi MVP Jaybie Mantilla of the University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars.