By: Leobert Julian A. de la Peña and Lcid Crescent Fernandez
We have waited a long time.
The year was 1998. The entire Ilonggo community celebrated as Iloilo joined the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA) by the name of the Iloilo Megavoltz.
A city full of basketball fanatics threw their support behind homegrown players competing nationally against the top hoopers of the Philippines.
But this was short-lived. The Iloilo Megavoltz pulled out from the MBA in the year 2000, and the league lasted only until 2002.
Leagues sprouted out representing companies.
Hoopers played for the glory of capitalists.
Just this 2018, senator Manny “Pacman” Pacquaio announced the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
Ilonggo players needed a home.
During this third season of the MPBL, the Lakan Cup, Iloilo finally joins as one of the league’s expansion teams.
Thus, the Iloilo United Royals were born.
After almost 20 years since Megavoltz, Ilonggos finally have a team to call their own. As hoopers, we are beyond happy that a team from Iloilo will once again compete nationally and banner our province with pride and honor.
They will be representing US.
Not only are they representing us, they are the best expansion team in the entire league, all while fielding 9 Ilonggo players.
Aaron Jeruta, Jay Javelosa, Jessiery Pedrosa, Rhagnee Sinco, Paul Reguerra, Gerry Abadiano, Jason Li, Andrei Pantin, and Leo Guion proudly wear ILOILO across their chests every time they step on the MPBL court.
Jeruta, the team’s captain and an MPBL Champion with the San Juan Knights, told the Daily Guardian, “As an Ilonggo, nakaka proud gid nga i-represent ang Iloilo, ang lugar nga kung diin ako nagdako, kag diin ako gin tawo. Happy gid ako nga marepresent ko ang province sang Iloilo. Syempre ano pa na abi kay Ilonggo ta, syempre gusto ta gid nga i-represent ang Iloilo!”
And now, the United Royals are here. Today, at 8:30 PM at the University of San Agustin Gym, they will be defending their home court against a tough Pasay Voyagers squad.
Let us scream until our voices are hoarse.
Let us cheer until our lungs give out.
This is OUR team and it has been too long
It has been 20 years since the city was alive with this buzz.
Long have we waited.
And now, the United Royals are home.