ARCHIVES: What’s In A Name?

The 15 teams for the MBA’s second season in 1999, the most in five years.

     ROMEL ADDUCUL could be playing for the Manila Sharks and John Ferriols for the Negros Musketeers. Ralph Rivera could be handling the ball for the Batangas Galvanizers.

     Frightening, isn’t it?

     Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.  Today’s 15 MBA nicknames number four animals, four minerals and thankfully zero vegetable.  Seven are people, from leaders to fighters.  Some make sense and others little sense.  All in all, it is an interesting collection.

     How did the teams come up with their names?  The teams employed various means, but there is nothing better than having the fans decide for themselves.  Such is the case with Pangasinan, which conducted a province-wide contest.  Thousands of entries were submitted and in the end, a 10-year old boy came up with “Presidents”.  The name was in honor of then-President Fidel Valdez Ramos, a native of Asingan, Pangasinan.

     The then-Pasig franchise was originally billed as the “Blue Arrows” since their corporate sponsor’s (Fil-Estate Realty) logo was a similar symbol.  They later adopted “Blue Pirates” due to the fact that pirates plied their illegal scheme along the Pasig River during the city’s early history.  The word “Blue” was later dropped when the team added “Rizal” to their name to symbolize their representation of the entire province, hence Pasig-Rizal Pirates.

     With history in mind, the Nueva Ecija Patriots are named in honor of their province mates who risked their lives during the Revolution of 1986.  Nueva Ecija was one of the eight original provinces that rose in revolt against Spanish rule.

     A popular method of finding a team nickname is through the owner’s business.  The National Champion Pampanga Dragons got their name from Mondragon Industries of Jose Antonio Gonzalez.  The Cebu Gems are named so because they are owned by the Lhuilliers, a family involved in jewelry and pawnshops.  Did you know that the Iloilo franchise was supposed to be known as the “Suns”?  Their corporate sponsor Solar Electric instead settled for “Volts”.  With a strengthened roster for 1999, the team is now called the “Megavoltz”.  One megavolt is equal to one million volts, so Iloilo fans hope that their team’s power has multiplied by a million-fold!

     Among the teams, the Batangas Blades have one of the best names.  Batanguenos are known to produce good quality balisongs (native fan knives).  These knives have become a symbol of the province.  How would fans feel cheering for the “Galvanizers”?  The Batangas franchise was originally awarded to a group of businessmen involved in the steel business.  Something unfortunate happened along the way, so Coach Francis Rodriguez moved majority of his newly-formed squad to Davao where they became the “Eagles”, another team with a nice name.  Davao is home to our national bird, the Philippine eagle.  There you can find the eagle sanctuary.  The people of Socsargen probably had the same idea in mind when they adopted “Marlins” due to General Santos City being a major source for the delicious fish.

     Expansion team Surigao is known as the “Miners” because of the area’s mining industry.  The “Miners” could have entered a year earlier as they were the original choice of the Cagayan de Oro franchise, later named the “Nuggets”.  A threat of a lawsuit made team owner Butch Canoy change the team name to “Amigos” since Cagayan de Oro is “The City of Golden Friendship”.

     Speaking of lawsuits, the Laguna Lakers are also facing a similar action, but they have resolved to fight it out.  The team is named so because of the many lakes that abound in Laguna.  The team was first known as the “Rapids”, in light of the rapids of Pagsanjan Falls.  Federal Express is also the team’s sponsor, thus we also have to take note of their “rapid” delivery service.

     The Manila franchise’s options then included “Sharks” and “Titans”.  The owners chose “Metrostars” since there are a lot of stars in the Metro Manila area, since Manila is the capital city, the center of government, commerce and culture.  The star also symbolized the qualities the owners hope would be imbibed in the players, a star shining bright, with power, moving at the speed of light.

     Choosing the team nickname is one tough task.  Sometimes a team has to change its choice several times until it finds an acceptable one.  The Negros franchise wrestled between “Negros” and “Bacolod”.  The owners settled for the former in order to represent the entire island.  They then chose “Muscovados” as their moniker.  What is a muscovado?  It is a form of sugar, Negros being the center of the sugar industry.  Not being so marketable, they became the “Musketeers”.  “Slashers” was finally chosen due to the immense popularity of cockfighting in Negros.  If you think Negros went through a lot, wait till you hear the story of San Juan.  Upon acceptance of its application, the team was named “Cyber Tigers” because a popular computer school sponsored them.  The school later withdrew, so businessman Sandy Javier took over.  Mr. Javier is an avid horse breeder, so the team became the “Stallions”.  For a while, there was talk of negotiations with Pangasinan for San Juan to acquire the former’s nickname.  If successful, Pangasinan would become the “Warriors” or the “Rebels”.  The talks failed, as San Juan desisted due to political reasons.  But since the Centennial spirit was prevalent, the team changed its name to “Bravehearts” in honor of our countrymen who risked their lives at Pinaglabanan.  Since the name sounded too long (and probably due to lack of Mel Gibson fans in San Juan), the team adopted its current nickname, the “Knights”.  The season has not yet started so there is a chance that we might have the San Juan Wristbands!

     What’s in a name?  Sometimes a team name does affect a team’s performance.  Recall the case of an art gallery sponsoring a team in the other pro league during the 1980’s.  The team was nicknamed the “Artists” and boy did they do badly!  Whatever names an MBA team carries, the owners have in mind a name that the community can identify with and make them proud to cheer their team to unprecedented heights.

Originally published in MBA All-Star (Vol. I, No. 15, February 5, 1999)


About Anthony E. Servinio

A long-time television sportscaster, magazine writer, photographer and college professor from the Philippines finally gives blogging a try after more than a decade of on-line presence. Read on folks!
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