by Jose Antonio Conde

Amateur basketball in the Philippines has so many dynasties to count, from ESQ to Magnolia to Tanduay and to Welcoat. But one franchise made a dynasty in the Philippine Basketball League, 6 titles to count, and produced several stars, that’s Mikee Romero and his Harbour Center Batang Pier Portmasters, now known as the Oracle Residences Titans.

One lousy day, in 2004, businessman Mikee Romero, thought of something that he has never thought in his entire life. His company, the Harbour Centre was still having its own beginnings, when it became the newest team in the league. Romero himself has been already participated in Basketball scene, by being a reserve for the DLSU Green Archers in the 90’s and playing for the Alumni League alongside team manager Erick Arejola. And as usual, they had their birth pains, even thou they had Basketball rival superstars Mark Cardona and Larry Fonacier around, and also for Tonichi Ytturi, the Portmasters’ first coach.

But the departure of Cadona and Fonacier still had struggles, despite having new and fresh players such as Jason Ballesteros, Rico Mairehofer, Joseph Yeo, and Marcy Arellano. Also, they had a new coach in UE’s Dindo Pumaren, but he later resigned due to some reasons. He was later replaced by former Stag player Jorge Gallent, who was also the former assistant coach of CSB Blazers in the NCAA under Tonichi Ytturi and his cousin, Caloy Garcia. But struggles will still have come there, until one day in 2006, things have started to move on, as they became competitive, and the rest is history.

They would beat higher-ranked teams such as Granny Goose and eventually, the Toyota Otis-Letran (led by uprising Fil-Am Joe DeVance and Mark Andaya) in the finals, 3-1. And the streak continues as they defeat other teams such as Mail and More Comets, ML Kwarta Padala, Hapee Toothpaste Sparklers, and eventually, Magnolia Purewater Wizards in the next title matches.

Gallent, now 38, has poduced talents such as LA Tenorio, Joseph Yeo, Chico Lanete, Ryan Arana, Rico Mairehofer, Ty Tang, Mark Barroca, and his greatest recruit——-Talk ‘n Text’s Jason Castro. Castro moved to the Batang Pier after playing a stint with PCU’s PBL team, the Hapee-PCU Sparklers, Castro’s emergance and quickness led him to several achievements, include three  PBL MVPs and a PBL Finals MVP. And that’s a true testament to others.

Somehow, somewhere, things started to change after winning their sixth title, first, they lost Jorge Gallent to Burger King as an assistant making associate coach Glenn Capacio to be promoted to the head coaching duties. Also, Romero admitted that the name “Harbour Centre” will never be used in many Basketball leagues again, and several names began to appear, from Team R2 Builders to that Oracle Residences, who once appeared in the revamped WPBL with the UP Fighting Maroons.  In return, Romero made Batang Pier Foundation, Inc. so that many people will remember how far they have came into this league and how good they are at all times.

Now named Oracle, they were still the same as the Batang Pier we once knew, even with a new coach, the chemistry still remains intact and well-developed, as they still dominated the standings, via 8-0 sweep. And the dynasty is still rising up! They might take the challenge until they win over and over again, maybe until googol years will do!

  1. May 19th, 2009

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