Basilan Steel-Jumbo Plastic was one of the surprises in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League-Lakan Cup.
From being one of the cellar-dwellers in the Datu Cup Southern Division with a 7-18 win-loss record, the Steel went as far as reaching the division finals.
Phenom Sports, which took over its management during the Lakan Cup, is plotting to continue the Steel's success next season.
“Coming in, ‘yung outlook namin sa team, we want to bring a winning culture dito sa Basilan. We took the challenge kahit alam naming cellar-dweller noong Datu Cup,” said Phenom head and Basilan general manager Jax Chua.
Jerson Cabiltes took the coaching reins for Basilan, backstopped by deputies Noy Catalan, Florian Pineda, Arnold Oliveros, Jinino Manansala, Joseph Guion, Migs Montero, and Dands Javier.
The management retained veteran Dennis Daa and activated Cris Dumapis. They also brought in playmaker Hesed Gabo and sweet shooting big man Jay Collado, Jhapz Bautista, Bobby Balucanag, Shaq Alanas, Gab Dagangon, and Michole Sorela.
They also signed former pros Jonathan Uyloan and Anthony Bringas alongside Irven Palencia. Philip Manalang, Mark Trinidad, Ar Raouf Jilkipli, Junjie Hallare, Darwin Lunor, Jett Vidal, Melgar Murillo, Harold Ng, and Reiner Bazan completed the lineup of Basilan.
“To have a winning team, not necessary naman to get big name players. Ang hinanap namin ay mga hardworking players who will buy into the system at magsa-sacrifice talaga,” Chua said.
The arrival of Phenom-managed collegiate talents in Allyn Bulanadi, NCAA Season 95 leading scorer and San Sebastian College-Recoletos superstar, and Philip Manalang completed Basilan’s playoff push.
Bulanadi played in the Steel’s last 7 games in the elimination round with an impressive average of 21.71 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
“Our main goal was to form a competitive team and we want to redefine Basilan through basketball. In this way, I think we have garnered so many fans and inspired 'yung buong Basilan province that’s why I think we have already succeeded in redefining Basilan,” Chua said.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).