Arwind Santos will help the Pampanga Giant Lanterns make the playoffs in the 2023 MPBL season
The team stated on its Facebook page that Santos, 42, will play for his home province when the Giant Lanterns face Marikina in the first round on Friday at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center.
The 2013 PBA MVP, who was born in Angeles, will join Pampanga governor Dennis Pineda and fellow Kapampangan stars Justine Baltazar and Encho Serrano as the Lanterns attempt to win their first MPBL title this season.
Pineda, who found Santos when he was young, is also the Giant Lanterns’ head coach.
Santos signed a one-year contract with NorthPort in the PBA in 2022, averaging 9.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in 21 games.
Santos joins Pampanga, which won the North Division with a 26-2 win-loss record, the best in the regular season. In a best-of-three quarter final series, the Giant Lanterns will face Marikina.
Previously, Vicente ‘Bong’ Cuevas III, owner of the NUEVA Ecija squad, has been around long enough to witness the MPBL create a niche in Philippine basketball and endear itself to fans, particularly those in the rural.
The soft-spoken Rice Vanguards patron offered his vision of a more sustainable and innovative league that he thinks can continue to provide entertainment for hoops fans in the long term, saying the MPBL is too excellent a league to be allowed to rot.
The five-year-old MPBL, established and owned by boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, has developed into a 29-team league that plays practically all year and draws crowds that are often larger than those who come to see the PBA’s best pro talents.
However, in order to be more sustainable, Cuevas believes the league will require reforms to bring its games to a broader national audience, assist owners financially as the cost of a home-and-away format rises, and maintain the integrity of its games.
Cuevas has one of the most stable franchises in the MPBL, but the rest of the clubs continue to struggle financially, an issue he believes the league can help alleviate by increasing sponsorships and other revenue streams for teams.
Cuevas and other team owners have also expressed a desire for an MPBL board that would not interfere with the league’s day-to-day operations, but will instead be entrusted with setting policies and charting a course for the regional league.
Despite the difficulties, Cuevas promised that he is not the only team owner eager to go above and beyond to ensure the league’s long-term viability.
Cuevas guarantees that it will all be worthwhile.