OCTOBER 25, 2006
(STAR) By Joey Villar - The Philippine Basketball League will serve as the extension of the UAAP and NCAA leagues as it opened its doors to collegiate champions Santo Tomas and San Beda for the PBL Silver Cup unfolding Nov. 11 at the newly built San Juan Coliseum.

A total of nine teams are taking part in the conference, including guest squads Cebuana Lhuillier-Pera Padala, Mail and More and Kettlecorn, from which commissioner Chino Trinidad sees the emergence of a new crop of stars.

"The highlight of this conference is that the UAAP and NCAA champions will be seeing action," said commissioner Chino Trinidad in yesterday’s PSA Forum at the Pantalan Restaurant.

The defending champion Magnolia Dairy Ice Cream has taken the core of the Lions, the reigning NCAA champions, while the Tigers, the UAAP champions, will banner the Kettlecorn squad through RFM top honcho Joey Concepcion.

The two teams are expected to parade their top players headed by 2006 rookie MVP Sam Ekwe, the 6-foot-8 Nigerian, and Finals MVP Yousif Aljamal of San Beda and Allan Evangelista, Finals MVP Jojo Duncil and Dylan Ababou of UST.

As in the past, the PBL was again left without its resident attractions following the departure of Kelly Williams, Arwind Santos, Joseph Yeo, Lewis Alfred Tenorio, Gabby Espinas, to name a few, to play in the pro league.

But the likes of Aljamal and company along with a new batch of rookies led by top overall pick Jonas Villanueva of Far Eastern are raring to show their wares in a league that traditionally serves as a stepping stone for aspiring PBA players.

"We always feel good that most of the PBA stars of today have somehow played in the PBL," said Trinidad.

"This conference, we have a bunch of talents that have the potentials to be PBA superstars someday, they could be the next LA Tenorio, Joseph Yeo, Kelly Williams or Arwind Santos," he added.

RFM, which was a former member in the late 80s and early 90s, was accepted back by the league one of three guest teams and ninth this conference.

The franchise, which will be managed by Elmer Yanga, joins Magnolia, Harbour Centre, Toyota Otis, Hapee Toothpaste, TeleTech and fellow guest squads Cebuana Lhuillier and Mail and More.

Although Kettlecorn came in late, Trinidad said he expects the team to be competitive.

"Knowing its attitude, I expect UST to spring some surprises," said Trinidad.

It will also mark the first time that Koy Banal of San Beda and Magnolia and Pido Jarencio of UST and Kettlecorn will have a chance to play against each other.

PBL Games will be spread out to different venues, including the school gyms of UST, Letran, FEU and San Beda, and will be aired live every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday on Studio 23, television giant ABS-CBN’s UHL channel.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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