Lucio Tan III aims to continue the legacy in grassroots sports development started by his father, the late Lucio “Bong” Tan, with Tanduay’s participation in local leagues such as the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
Tanduay will be renaming the team and fielding a new Batangas City Embassy Chill team in the MPBL. During its first stint in the league, it won the Rajah Cup championship in 2018.
“Tanduay has always been supportive of sports such as basketball. The goal is not just to join leagues, but, more importantly, to give players from different communities in the country the chance to fulfill their dreams of making it big in sports,” said Tan, who is now the President and COO of Tanduay Distillers, Inc.
The older Tan was a staunch supporter of Philippine sports, particularly basketball. He played basketball himself and would have Tanduay employees participate in various amateur leagues. His sons Lucio III and Kyle Tan shared their father’s passion.
“I can’t be my dad’s son if I don’t care about basketball,” said Lucio III. “I’m a huge NBA fan. When I was younger, I followed the PBA for a time.”
He also revealed that exercise is one of his biggest passions.
“My biggest passion is exercise, working out at the gym. What attracted me to it is that it’s incredibly systematic; it’s like working on engineering problems, but this time you’re focused on your body. It was something I was able to focus on outside of work,” said Tan, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a master’s degree in Computer Science from Stanford University.
Part of the Tanduay Culture
For Lucio III, basketball is like a “universal language.”
“It’s something I can connect with, with my friends, executives, and younger people as well. We would be talking about financial statements, and then would be asking if we watched the game yesterday. It’s something that all of us could talk about,” he said.
On the other hand, Team Manager of the Batangas City Embassy Chill and Tanduay Distillery General Manager Gerry Tee reiterated that basketball is a huge part of the Tanduay culture.
“Sports development is already ingrained in the culture of Tanduay. Not only do we support teams, but we also support our employees who play basketball. During Mr. Bong Tan’s time, we would participate in many leagues. He wanted his employees to be healthy, so that we could be more productive,” shared Tee.
New coach, new players
According to Tee, the MPBL is just one of the many outlets of their goal of furthering Tan’s legacy in grassroots sports development.
“It feels great to be back in the MPBL. We’re excited that we’ll be seeing and traveling to different parts of Luzon again and see the fans of the Tanduay team and the fans of the league,” Tee said.
The MPBL took a two-year hiatus following the enforcement of health protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is nice to go back and be able to help in the development of grassroots basketball again and also support the players who have not been employed for the longest time,” Tee said.
During the long layoff, the newly named Batangas City Embassy Chill started rebuilding the team. It is now going to be coached by Cholo Villanueva, who also coaches the revitalized Tanduay Rum Masters in the current FilBasket league and serves as an assistant coach for the University of the East Red Warriors. Tanduay was impressed with Coach Villanueva’s program when he was with another team at the MPBL..
Tee revealed that they will be fielding the same players that they currently have in Filbasket. They include Levi Hernandez, Cedrick Ablaza, Mark Cruz, Dawn Ochea, Johnrey Villanueva, Jeckster Apinan, Wilson Baltazar, John Amboludta, Ralf Olivares, Joshua Gonzales, Darwin Lunor, Mark Dela Virgen, Jaycee Asuncion, Rudy Lingganay, Jay Manlangit, King Importante, and Jong Baloria.
Asked why they will continue to represent Batangas, he said that its local officials and citizens have been very supportive of the team since it started in the league.
Batangas City Embassy Chill will be playing their first game on April 25, 2022, Monday, against Imus Bandera at the Batangas City home court.
Giving Filipino athletes from other areas the chance to shine
Tan pointed out that in giving athletes outside of the big cities the opportunity to play, they are furthering the development of Philippine sports.
“There are many talented athletes in the Philippines, but not all of them are given the opportunity to join the popular leagues. We want to change that. We want to give them a shot at the sport that they are passionate with, just like what my father envisioned,” he concluded.