FIVE YEARS removed from mainstream basketball, former PBA chairman Manuel “Buddy” Encarnado is back and very agog over his newest brainchild, the Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League (PCBL) that will play its inaugural tournament beginning this Sunday (October 11) at the Caruncho Sports Complex just beside the Pasig City Hall. “We hope to bring big time commercial basketball back and fill the void left by the closure of the PBL,” he said during the league’s recent gala night at the Meralco Compound on Ortigas Avenue.
No less than Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Manuel V. Pangilinan graced the occasion. This early, the SBP gave the PCBL a big shot in the arm by entrusting the duty of forming the national teams for Southeast Asian zone and other minor tournaments despite not playing a single official game yet.
The PCBL will have multi-titled coach Edmundo “Ato” Badolato as Commissioner. Referees will be provided by the SBP.
Encarnado’s very own Santa Lucia Realty will be one of the eight teams. The Realtors are making a grand comeback after their PBA franchise was sold to Meralco in 2010.
Several teams from the PBA D-League are also in led by Jumbo Plastic and last-minute entry Cagayan Valley. KeraMix has been split into two teams namely Caida Tiles and Kama Motors, while reigning Foundation Cup champion CafeFrance will be fielding the core of its team to be known as Euro-Med Laboratories.
Completing the roster of teams are Foton-Pampanga, a campaigner from the Fil-Sports Basketball Association, and Supremo Lex Builders-Our Lady of Fatima. The Builders are the only school-based team but their partnership dates back to last year’s DEL League in Marikina City.
Commissioner Badolato announced the opening day pairings which were determined by a drawing of lots. The Realtors will face Kama at 4:00 PM followed by Foton and Caida in the 6:00 PM main game.
The eight teams have been divided into two groups with group mates playing each other twice and the teams in the other group once for a total of ten games. Caida, Kama, Foton and Santa Lucia are in one group while Supremo Lex, Euro-Med, Jumbo Plastic and Cagayan Valley comprise the other group.
“This is only our first conference but we are already making plans up to December of next year,” added Encarnado. “We might have a conference with imports in order to offer the fans more variety.”
Regarding expansion, the PCBL hopes to touch base with former basketball team owners from the PBL. “I recall how Cebuano teams like Mama’s Love used to pack the Rizal Memorial so teams from outside of Luzon is a possibility,” said Encarnado.
While waiting for teams from the South, the PCBL will have a bit of regional flavor from Foton, Caida and Kama who will play some of their games in Pampanga and Bulacan. Supremo Lex may also hold games in Antipolo City.
Already, the tournament looks promising with the slew of collegiate stars from the NAASCU, NCAA and UAAP scattered among the eight rosters plus a sprinkling of PBA and PBA D-League veterans and Filipino-foreign recruits. Even before the first ball is tossed, Encarnado is already smiling from ear to ear.