For love of the game: Basketball stars return to Cebu for a grand ‘homecoming’ with PLDT Home

 To kick off PLDT Home’s Fiber Fastbreak series, Carl Tamayo and Calvin Oftana of Gilas Pilipinas and Roger Pogoy of TNT Tropang Giga trace their roots back in their hometown with fellow hard-court hotshot Kib Montalbo and celebrate their passion for the sport with Cebuano fans. 

Known to breed rising talent at the high school and collegiate levels and professional and international stars who have grown to be household names, Cebu is a hotbed of top-tier basketball talent in the Philippines. The region has produced some of the best players in the country – from multi-time MVP June Mar Fajardo and former Gilas sharpshooter Dondon Hontiveros.

On April 20, some of the biggest basketball stars from Gilas Pilipinas and Tropang TNT Giga returned to their native Cebu and the Visayas for a grand “homecoming.” At the kickoff of PLDT Home’s Fiber Fastbreak series held at SM Seaside Cebu City, Carl Tamayo and Calvin Oftana of Gilas Pilipinas and Roger “RR” Pogoy and Kib Montalbo of TNT Tropang Giga temporarily escaped their busy basketball games and trainings to reconnect back to their roots. The four athletes met fans and enthusiasts for one afternoon – on a mission to inspire them to pursue their dreams and passions in life.

Tamayo, Oftana, Pogoy, and Montalbo made their first stop at the PLDT and Smart Store also right inside SM Seaside to meet and greet PLDT Home customers. Inside the newly reopened store, the athletes challenged customers to a basketball arcade game before obliging for more photo opportunities and interactions with fans.

The athletes then graced the much-attended Gamefest 2024, where they interacted with mallgoers for a fun NBA 2K24 session followed by a quick parlor game onstage.

Hosted by Mikee Reyes, a basketball player turned sportscaster himself, the PLDT Home Fiber Fastbreak kickoff only underscored how sports among other passions unites Filipinos from all ages and all walks of life. The event witnessed hard-court heroes coming full circle as they reflected on their own sports journeys.

“Coming home to Cebu makes me remember how I started my basketball career, and how far I’ve come thanks to this sport,” said Tamayo, from Talisay, Cebu. “Everything I do is to honor my family especially my dearly departed dad who was also a former player at the University of Southern Philippines Foundation.”

A discovery from Southwestern University flown to Manila at 13 to play for the Adamson Baby Falcons and then the National University Bullpups, Tamayo saw his career flourish in college. He helped the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons win their UAAP men’s basketball championship in 2022 – UP’s first since 1986. Since then, he has become a regular member of the Gilas Pilipinas roster and has also played at the Japanese B.League. 

Meanwhile, aside from winning his first PBA title in 2023, Oftana boasts one of the most storied careers. Born in Danao, Cebu but raised in Dumaguete playing various sports, he was discovered in high school and then flown to Manila. He led the San Beda Red Lions to three NCAA championships.

“Who would have thought that someone from a big family back in Cebu and Dumaguete who just wanted to play ball would eventually make it to the national team? I grew up trying volleyball and athletics, but my heart remains with basketball. I am so thankful and humbled for the experience. As part of Gilas Pilipinas, I look forward to making not just Cebu and Dumaguete proud but more so the entire nation,” said Oftana.

Pogoy, a University of Cebu alumnus from Talisay, is another proud Cebuano now making it big in the pros. Starting as a role player in college at the Far Eastern University, he grew into one of the PBA’s top stars with the TNT Tropang Giga, while joining Gilas Pilipinas in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“Cebu is ever passionate about basketball, and playing here has toughened up my game. This experience helped me grow as a player, as I adapted my playstyle to any system, whether it be the UAAP, the PBA, or as part of the national team,” said Pogoy. “I am just so thrilled to be back to where I started!”

Montalbo, while hailing from neighboring Bacolod, is no stranger to the contribution of Cebu to basketball. The former two-time UAAP champion from De La Salle University already faced top prospects in the region back in the junior ranks. He would also go toe-to-toe against Oftana and Pogoy in both the collegiate and professional levels, before playing alongside them as part of TNT Tropang Giga.

“Playing in Cebu offers a different intensity that basketball lovers should witness!” said Montalbo, who went to St. John's Institute in high school. “I am so honored as well to be part of my Cebuano teammates’ homecoming – it’s always a joy seeing athletes be back to where they began. I am as inspired as they are, so sending our love to Cebu! What a homecoming!”

Next to Cebu, the PLDT Home Fiber Fastbreak series makes its stop in Davao on April 27 and in Imus and Manila in May – promising to bring more local basketball stars to celebrate the sport with more communities. To culminate the series, the last leg happening inside SM Megamall will feature a constellation of stars from Gilas Pilipinas, TNT Tropang Giga, and more club and collegiate teams all paying it forward to the next generation of basketball players with a camp and a tournament.

Enough said: Basketball is the most celebrated sports in the Philippines, with Filipinos among the biggest viewers and consumers of the NBA. During the 2022-2023 season alone, the world’s most popular basketball league recorded 923 million digital engagements in the country. These numbers rank the Philippines third in terms of global audiences watching the games on free and premium TV channels, and second when it comes to NBA League Pass subscriptions in the Asia-Pacific region.

Inspired by Filipinos’ undeniable love of the game and just in time for the NBA Playoffs, PLDT Home is offering a promo for new Fiber customers. From April 1, 2024 to May 31, 2024, new applicants of the Fiber Unli All 2099 plan will be awarded a complimentary one-month NBA League Pass they can use to catch more live games, more live moments – right inside the comforts of their home.

Get your basketball fix and catch more NBA action with NBA League Pass via PLDT Home. Sign up for a PLDT Home Fiber Unli All 2099 plan and above to enjoy a complimentary one-month NBA League Pass subscription! To learn more, visit

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