GIVEN its crack lineup led by former pro Paulo Hubalde, officials behind the MJAS Zenith-Talisay Aquastars vowed yesterday said they would go all out in the inaugural Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup unfolding on April 9 in Cebu City.
“We want to win the championship. We are putting pressure on ourselves pero ganun talaga. We want to win,” Hubalde, the Aqua Stars team captain, boldly said yesterday in the Philippine Sportswriters Association online forum.
Team manager Jhon Santos echoed the sentiments of the son of former Crispa hotshot Freddie Hubalde, saying: “Kagaya nga nang sinabi ni Paolo, we’re all about winning the championship. Lalaban hanggang dulo talaga.”
Joining them in the session backed by San Miguel Corp. Smart, Amelie Hotel, Braska Hotel, Milo, Go For Gold and the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp. was Puma PH senior manager for sales marketing and operations Michael Aldover, who had high expectations for the team.
“The team has potential. It has a balanced lineup and is a very competitive,” Aldover noted, “and I am really putting the pressure on them also.”
With former UST coach Aldrin Morante calling the shots, the Aqua Stars boast a loaded roster that include Cebuano aces Patrick Jan Cabahug, Darrell Shane Menina, Kevin Villafranca, Lugie Cuyos, Joshua dela Cerna and Tristan Albina. They also have former pro star Paul Alvarez as a consultant.
Hubalde said the familiarity of the players with each other would play a key role in their championship aspirations.
“We are not just a team but a family that is why we have achieved chemistry. We know each other very well,” said the veteran, who won a PBA Philippine Cup crown with the Petron Blaze Boosters in 2011.
Given his experience in the PBA and the MPBL, Hubalde said he expects to provide leadership and guidance on the younger members of the squad on and off the court.
Aldover said supporting the Talisay City-based club was one way of raising Puma’s profile as a basketball brand in the Visayas and Mindanao region “where we are not strong yet.”
The German outfitter’s support of the Aqua Stars was also in line with the brand’s aggressive global marketing campaign that was launched two years ago in the NBA.