Playing For a Good Cause
The Philippine Star — There’s a basketball league that’s creating good vibes around town because teams are playing for charity and it’s oriented towards public service. The league is called the UNTV Cup organized by the “public service” TV station UNTV and its second season started last February with 10 entries.
Tournament commissioner is PBA legend and Mapua Cardinals coach Atoy Co assisted by deputy Ed Cordero. The age floor for players is 32 years old and teams are allowed to bring in two guest imports. The league is a haven for ex-PBA players who’ve still got game like Kenneth Duremdes, Zaldy Realubit, Don Camaso, Jenkins Mesina, Ariel Capus, Jeff Sanders, Kiko Adriano, Gerard Francisco, Poch Juinio and Arnold Gamboa.
UNTV’s Daniel Razon thought of creating the cause-oriented league and the first season last year was a huge success with the Judiciary Cagers claiming the initial championship over six contenders. PNP’s Ollan Omiping, who was Purefoods’ second round pick in the 2006 PBA draft out of the University of the East, was named MVP. The first season invited celebrities to join the action. Actors like 1996 Olympic silver medalist Onyok Velasco, Zoren Legaspi and Eric Fructuoso brought added glitz to the league.
UNTV awarded cash prizes to the top four finishers from P1 Million to P150,000. The money wasn’t distributed to the players. That was never the intention. The money was earmarked for charity. Judiciary, as champion, gave its P1 Million reward to the earthquake and calamity victims in Bohol and Cebu and the standoff war victims in Zamboanga. Second placer Philippine National Police (PNP) donated P500,000 to the Masonic Charities of Crippled Children while third placer Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gave P250,000 to the AFP Educational Benefit System Office. Fourth placer Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) contributed to the Cancer Warriors Foundation.