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Gary David, ex pros enter MPBL thinking it’s more than just playing basketball

Former PBA player Gary David holds the Bataan Defenders team banner with team muse Carla Valderrama during the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League opening ceremonies at Araneta Coliseum on Thursday. David said the league offers many players a means to earn a living. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), dubbed “the league for every Filipino,” won’t only provide opportunities for newcomers to showcase their skills on national TV, but it will also give ex-professional players a chance to show they still have what it takes to play at a high level. 

Take the case of Gary David, expected to be a vital cog for the Bataan Defenders.

“Masaya ako kasi parang bagong journey ng career ko. Matagal ako sa PBA pero pumasok na ’ko sa panibagong liga,” said the 39-year-old, famously known as “El Granada” as he was among the most fearsome scorers during his peak playing years.

Joining the MPBL is more than just about extending his playing years, however, David said.

“Marami tayong mga players dito na walang trabaho, ‘pag nag-boom ‘tong liga na ito, maraming mga players magkaka-trabaho at maraming pamilya na giginhawa ang buhay,” he said.

Paolo Hubalde, who played for PBA teams San Miguel Beer and GlobalPort, as well as Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League, shares the same sentiment.

The 37-year-old Hubalde now plays for the Valenzuela Classics and he wants to bring the PBA level of play into the MPBL.

“Kung kaya nating pantayan ang level ng PBA, why not? Alam naman natin na ang Pilipino ‘pag dating sa basketball competitive talaga,” he said.

“Kaya rin ako naglaro dito to inspire kids, young ones at mga players na ‘di nabigyan ng pagkakataon sa PBA o sa anumang liga. So for me it’s a great idea for Senator Manny Pacquiao for giving us these kinds of opportunities, lalo na sa iba na ‘di nabibigyan ng pagkakataon.”

For journeyman player Egay Billones the MPBL is a chance to show he can still play.

The 42-year-old said he never stopped playing even after leaving the PBA in 2008. 

After suiting up for Air21, Purefoods and Talk ‘N Text, the playmaker from Las Piñas City joined the Philippine Patriots in the ABL and Misamis Oriental Meteors in Liga Pilipinas. He is now part of the Muntinlupa Cagers.

“Continuous pa naman ako naglalaro even after umalis ako ng PBA, sumasali pa rin ako sa ibang liga,” he said.

For guys such as David, basketball never stops as long as the body is willing.

“As long as healthy, walang injury at makakapaglaro ako. I will commit myself to basketball,” he said.

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