Delta inspires players in NLEx basketball league

MABALACAT CITY -- Pampanga Vice-Governor Dennis Pineda exhorted youth players and professional basketball aspirants to hone their craft well not just for the sake of the sport but also for a living.

During the opening ceremonies of the NLEX Basketball Cup at Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in City of San Fernando, Pampanga, Pineda told them to be good in their chosen sport, particularly basketball.

“Play well because this might bring you a good future and decent life,” Pineda told players from 18 Pampanga towns and cities that are competing in the inter-town league.

Pineda, a known basketball aficionado and supporter, is credited for the success of Kapampangan players in the Philippine Basketball Association, the leading play-for-pay professional basketball tournament in Asia.

They include Calvin Abueva of Alaska Aces, Arwind Santos of San Miguel Beermen, Michael Miranda of NLEX Road Warriors and Ian Sanggalang of Magnolia Chicken.

Pineda cited the success of Miranda, a Sta. Ana, Pampanga native, who was a revelation in the recently-concluded PBA Philippine Cup. The 6-5 center used to ride the bench of former team Phoenix Fuelmasters for two years. On his third year, he was given a break by NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao, only to deliver crucial baskets in the quarterfinals and semis. He ably filled up the slot left by power forward Enrico Villanueva who retired at the end of last season.

In a jest, Pineda said: “Mike here used to just eat rice with catsup but now he is popular.”

In emphasizing the need to practice and hone up basketball skills, Pineda also cited fellow Capampangan Ian Sanggalang who also shone in the finals series despite losing the crown to San Miguel Beermen.

“They used to have problems before like transportation fare. But now their status is different because they are playing good,” said Pineda.

The vice-governor also thanked NLEX Corp. officials who was represented by Senior Vice-President Raul Ignacio for helping organize the inter-town tourney. He also cited the support of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, who is from Apalit. NLEX Corp is a subsidiary of MPTC.

For his part, Ignacio said the tournament is also aimed at fostering camaraderie, sportsmanship among players and their respective towns.

NLEX Corp is credited for its countryside sports programs that include basketball clinics in provinces found along SCTEX and NLEX tollways. Some of the players that were trained in its programs are now playing in this league that will stretch throughout the summer.