THE Pagadian Explorers is ready to make a comeback in local basketball scene as they joined the Mindanao leg of the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup set to unfold on May 30.
Team owner and incumbent Pagadian Mayor Sammy Co announced that he revived the Explorers, one-time finalists in the National Basketball Conference (NBC) and regular campaigner in the Liga Pilipinas over a decade ago, and promised to be a force to reckon with in the country’s first-ever professional basketball league in the South.
“Before, we already had a team. I don’t know what happened because I was out of politics for six years. Right now, I have another first term and I made sure to revive a team,” said Co, who tapped the likes of Nelson Asaytono and Elbert Alberto during their time with the NBC and Liga.
“It would really help our youth and encourage them na ma-hook sa games and not ma-hook sa drugs,” he added.
Headlining the team is 6-foot-6 Mark Benitez, who previously played for Rizal-Xentro Mall during the 2019-21 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Cup.
Joining him are Arellano transferees Rich Guinitiran and CJ Pamaran — both of whom already secured their special guest licenses from the Games and Amusements Board back on April 8, and Keanu Caballero, formerly of Taguig in the National Basketball League.
Completing the squad are Orvelle Saludsod, John Edros Quimado, Arman Demigaya, Kenneth Singedas, Elizalde Sunogan, Kenth Baldeo, Kem Jhon Diva, Von Dechos, Ruben Caballero, Jehzreel Acaylar, Jeric Serrano, Rex Quilo, Christian Manalo, Rey Bolotaolo, Godfred Helido, and Jan Villaver.
Serving as head coach is Harold Sta. Cruz while taking the team manager role is Dodong Pamaran.
“Siyempre we want to promote our province and tell the country that there is a city called Pagadian. Also, we want to win but in sports siyempre may nananalo at natatalo. We just want the players to play our best,” said Co about his modest goals in the league.
Besides putting up a team, Co also made a bid to host the Grand Finals of the league set this August. He wants the VisMin Super Cup to be the league that would be the first team that would play in their newly-constructed gym in Plaza Luz.
“We have a newly-constructed venue. Sana yung VisMin yung maka-break in sa court natin.”