by Kristel Satumbaga
The Basilan Steel vowed a complete turnaround in the third season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) beginning June 12 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Steel underwent a major revamp that saw only three players being kept by the team owned by businessman Hegem Furigay with Gov. Majiv Hataman as the local government unit partner and Jax Chua as assistant general manager.
Among the key acquisitions are Jonathan Uyloan, a member of the Rain or Shine champion team in 2012 who also played in PBA teams Globalport and Meralco; Anthony Bringas, who suited up for the Meralco Bolts in the PBA and played for the 2016 William Jones Cup champion team Mighty Sports-Philippines; former Perpetual Help standouts Gab Dagangon and Jett Vidal; former San Sebastian star Allyn Bulanadi; and Irven Palencia, one of the top scorers of three-peat NAASCU champion St. Clare.
Also suiting up for the Steel are MPBL All-Stars Jay Collado and Hesed Gabo from the Quezon City Capitals; Bobby Balucanag and Shaq Alanas from the Pasay Voyagers; Michole Sorela from the Navotas Clutch; Jhaps Bautista from the Makati Super Crunch; and former pro Dennis Daa.
Jerson Cabiltes, who took over the coaching reins late last season, sees a fast-paced offensive game with the presence of young guns as they seek to erase the memory of a second-to-the-last place finish last season.
They only won seven games and lost 18 matches.
The team also hopes their performance on court will translate to the promotion of Basilan as a beautiful and peaceful province in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.
“We want to be an ambassador of peace,” said Chua, adding that they hope to bring three home games for the fans at home.