Pampanga will be making its return to the country’s basketball scene through the fast-growing Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League of Senator Manny Pacquiao.
Pampanga is a known hotbed of Philippine basketball producing the likes of current PBA stars Arwind Santos, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar and Ian Sangalang among others.
The province took part in the now-defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) from 1998 to 2000 and were known as the Dragons. They won the first ever league championship behind now-SMB assistant coach Ato Agustin. The team, however, fell on hard times are were forced to take a leave of absence in 2001. They returned the following year and were renamed as the Stars. Unfortunately, the league suddenly closed shop after the 2002 season.
After a 16-year hiatus, Pampanga is now back and raring to prove the stuff that “Cabalens” are made of.
The team is co-owned by brothers Brenz and AG Gonzales, sons of Dong Gonzales, sitting Congressman of the third district of Pampanga.
As per the elder Gonzales, Team Pampanga will prioritize homegrown players.
“We want to give exposure to our homegrown. Hindi bale nang hindi sikat, basta ang gusto namin, kami ang magpasikat. Parang si Manny Pacquiao nung araw,” said the honorable Congressman.
The team will carry the moniker “Lanterns” in the upcoming 2nd conference which kicks off on June 12.