PAGADIAN, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR — The road to defend its Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup throne would be an entire different story for Basilan BRT.
This as only four players from the champion squad that went 13-0 last season returned for the 2nd conference – namely Junjie Hallare, Darwin Lunor, Ramz Latip, and Kim Saliddin.
Gone are the likes of Mindanao Leg MVP Hesed Gabo, co-Finals MVP Michael Mabulac and Jay Collado, and their captain Jonathan Uyloan.
Also not around for the title defense are Michael Juico, Jong Baloria, Chris Bitoon, Shaq Taganas, Philip Manalang, and Stephen Siruma.
But Hallare remains unfazed with the challenge of defending the crown with key pieces missing.
And indeed, he showed it Saturday night when he led the Peace Riders to a 78-75 squeaker against Iligan here at the Pagadian City Gymnasium.
Usually coming off the bench the last conference, Hallare shone the brightest given the starting role yesterday.
And that came with a little push from the side of Basilan acting head coach Ron Jalmanzar.
“Sinabihan ko si Junjie bago ‘yung game, ‘bibigay ko sa’yo ‘yung kumpyansa, ilabas mo ‘yung laro mo’,” said Jalmanzar.
“Napakalaking opportunity itong binigay sa akin ni Coach Ron kaya nagpapasalamat din ako na binigyan nila ako ng kumpyansa na ipakita ko ‘yung laro ko,” responded the 6-foot-1 forward.
With a new role from here on out, the native of Imus, Cavite is ready to be the leader the Peace Riders needed.
He, alongside the three leftovers, is joining hands to lead by example how to represent best the province of Basilan.
“Apat na lang kaming natira. Sabi namin tutulungan namin ‘yung mga bago naming kakampi. Tulungan kaming apat, tulungan din nila kami para makuha ‘yung panalo,” said Hallare.