ONE CALL AWAY | MPBL stars who could earn PBA spots

The league of opportunity. The league of second chances.

With a primetime slot on free TV and with fans filling up game venues, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) has gained considerable prominence and mileage in just its pilot conference. It has also proven to be a haven for undrafted basketball aspirants, former collegiate stars and former PBA players to strut their stuff in front of a nationwide audience. Certainly, there are players who have probably caught the fancy of PBA scouts and observers.

Thus, a return ticket to the PBA may be in store for these six basketball talents, who impressed in MPBL’s inaugural conference.

Honorable mentions: Lester Alvarez, Paul Varilla, Juneric Baloria

1. Jaymo Eguilos – Batangas City Athletics

With an array of offensive moves and toughness on defense, Eguilos had an impressive showing in the Anta Rajah Cup, especially in the Finals series against the Muntinlupa Cagers. His go-ahead jumper with 59 seconds left in the game turned out to be the title-clincher for the Tanduay-backed Athletics. The 6’6 center for the inaugural MPBL Champions once played for the Blackwater Elite in the PBA.

Possible destinations: Phoenix Fuel Masters, Meralco Bolts

2. Allan Mangahas – Muntinlupa Cagers

Mangahas proved to be a dazzler of a point guard for the Anta Rajah Cup first runners-up. The 5’11 playmaker out of Mapua effectively ran the show for the Angelis Resort-sponsored Cagers by dishing out pin-point passes to his teammates or hitting three-pointers on the fly. Mangahas was a back-up point guard in the PBA while suiting up for the Meralco Bolts and the Blackwater Elite.

Possible destinations: GlobalPort Batang Pier, Blackwater Elite11

3) Stephen Siruma – Bulacan Kuyas
Hailing from Meycauayan, Bulacan, Siruma was the Kuyas’ homegrown hero who has long dreamt of making it to the big leagues. His scoring prowess contributed greatly to the Kuyas’ MPBL campaign, where they finished the eliminations with a 6-3 win-loss record to notch the number two seed in the quarterfinals. After the Kuyas’ shock quarterfinal loss to the Parañaque Patriots, the 6’2 combo guard immediately got a call-up for the PBA D-League team Che’Lu Bar and Grill-San Sebastian. Seruma once tried his luck in the PBA, but went undrafted in the 2012 PBA Rookie Draft.

Possible destinations: Alaska Aces, GlobalPort Batang Pier

4) Harold Arboleda – Parañaque Patriots
The 6’2 forward, who played collegiate ball for the UPHSD Altas, was one of the scoring threats of the Parañaque Patriots in their maiden MPBL run. Arboleda reunited with his former Altas coach Aric Del Rosario and backcourt partner Juneric Baloria to lead the Gamboa Coffee-backed Patriots to an upset over the highly-favored Bulacan Kuyas in the quarterfinals. Arboleda spent two seasons in the PBA with the NLEX Road Warriors.

Possible destinations: Alaska Aces, GlobalPort Batang Pier

5) Chito Jaime – Muntinlupa Cagers

The 34-year old veteran was one of the leaders of the Muntinlupa squad who made it all the way to the Rajah Cup Finals. A PBA journeyman, Jaime ended up as the conference’s third leading scorer.

Possible destinations: Rain or Shine Elastopainters, NLEX Road Warriors

6) Val Acuña – Batangas City Athletics

Despite going through shooting struggles in the final two games of the championship series, Acuña’s brilliant conference-long performance earned him the distinction of being the first-ever MPBL Most Valuable Player (MVP). The 6’3 Acuña won four championships in the PBA while suiting up for the Purefoods franchise from 2010 to 2013.

Possible destinations: Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, GlobalPort Batang Pier