THE LAST time Bernabe Teodoro and Coach Ralph Emerson Rivera teamed up, the result was nothing less than a National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) Juniors championship for the Our Lady of Fatima University Junior Phoenix in 2010. Five years later, the duo is back together again as they hope to bring Supremo Lex Builders-OLFU to the top of the recently-launched Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL).
Teodoro was the Most Valuable Player that season but he later chose to take his talents to Jose Rizal University where he became one of the top gunners for the Heavy Bombers. He and center Joseph Gabayni of Lyceum of the Philippines University were among the final recruits added the roster of the Antipolo City-based quintet that will be composed of the core of the current Phoenix varsity.
Gabayni hopes to solve the team’s lack of a true center, a big problem in the just concluded 15th NAASCU where OLFU ended up in Fifth Place after years of being a fixture in the Final Four. Joining Teodoro and Gabayni will be OLFU skipper Joseph Marquez, Benjie Jimenez, Jerome Juanico and Romyl Jornacion, NAASCU Juniors Mythical Five member Erwin Bargola and recent graduate Dexter Rosales.
For good measure, Coach Rivera has also signed up ex-pro Jaypee Belencion, Russell Yaya of Emilio Aguinaldo College and Dennis Santos and Christopher Bitoon of Manuel L. Quezon University. A player or two may be added to the list prior to the team’s first game.
Former pro player Paolo Mendoza, Coach Rivera’s teammate at the 1994 National Junior Team, is one of the team owners. The team’s assistant coaches are Don Villamin and Christian Coronel.
The inaugural conference of the PCBL will tip off on October 11 (Sunday) with a doubleheader at the Caruncho Complex beside the Pasig City Hall. Tournament commissioner is the legendary Edmundo Badolato, Coach Rivera’s high school coach at San Beda College.
Supremo Lex will do battle with the likes of Euro-Med, Santa Lucia Realty, Jumbo Plastic, Caida Tiles, Kama Motors, Foton-Pampanga and last-minute entry Cagayan Valley Rising Suns. Before the PCBL, Supremo Lex and the Phoenix combined forces in last year’s DEL League in Marikina City.