From L-R: MJASZenith team manager Jhon Santos, Puma executive Michael Aldover, MJASZenith team owners Samson and Arlene Lato and VisMin Super Cup COO Rocky Chan. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines—Veterans Paolo Hubalde and Val Acuña are moving on to the next stage of their careers as they team up for MJASZenith Talisay in the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup.
Part of their excitement is the fact that they will be able to play competitive basketball once more as the COVID-19 pandemic practically put sports to a stop in 2020.
“It was really a difficult time, especially when you have no way of earning a living,’’ said Acuña, a four-time PBA champion with the Purefoods franchise and a former Finals MVP of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
Acuña and Hubalde haven’t played for more than a year as the MPBL stopped play due to the COVID-19 pandemic
With the MPBL stopping its operations, the players also lost their salaries and instead relied on allowances from their teams.
Fortunately for the Valenzuela teammates, MJASZenith team owners Samson and Arlene Lato decided to bring them in to form the core of the Talisay team in the VisMin league.
“We are really thankful that our owners accepted the offer for the team to play in the VisMin Super Cup, which will give these players the opportunity to earn for their families,’’ said MJASZenith team manager Jhon Santos.
“Times are really hard. Our players really experienced the difficulty of saving their small allowances just to survive.”
Acuña and Hubalde will be sharing the floor with another veteran player in Patrick Cabahug. They will be coached byAldrin Morante with Bong Alvarez serving as consultant.
The Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup, which is a pro league, will kick off with a tournament bubble in Cebu City on April 9.
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