Cabo's First Ever Professional Basketball Team

BY: FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ

The City of Cabo San Lucas announced in late October that it had been awarded a franchise in the professional basketball league known as The Circuito de Baloncesto de la Costa del Pacífico (CIBACOPA).

The other and newer professional basketball league is based in Northwestern Mexico. All games for the 2020 basketball season will start in March and end with the playoffs and championship game this June.

In Mexico, the LNPB is the country's professional basketball league that consists of 16 teams. Teams are separated into an East and West Conference, which includes teams from such cities and states as Chihuahua, Monterrey, Guanajuato, Mexico City, Morelia, Michoacan, Tijuana, Mexicali and Zacatecas, just to name a few. 

The CIBACOPA league teams play in smaller venue arenas with seating capacity that ranges from 1,700 to 3,000 and the 8,000-seat coliseum of Tijuana. The 9 teams in the league are the 1) Caballeros de Culiacán, Sinaloa, 2) Gigantes de Guadalajara, Jalisco, 3) Halcones de Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, 4) Ostioneros de Guaymas, Sonora, 5) Pioneros de Los Mochis, Sinaloa, 6) Rayos de Hermosillo, Sonora, 7) Tijuana Zonkeys and the three in Baja California Sur, 8) Mantarrayas de La Paz, Baja California Sur, and now 9) The San Lucas Pelicans. 

The president of the Pacific Basketball Circuit, César Ojeda Anaya, declared in an interview about the interest of adding eight more seats to this league for the 2020 campaign. The interested franchises are Tecate, Tijuana, Rosarito and Mexicali, all from the state of Baja California. Also interested in joining the league are Caborca, Sonora; Durango, Torreón, Coahuila, and Xalisco Nayarit.

So far three new teams have been officially integrated into Cibapac, which are Toros de Guamúchil, Búhos de Hermosillo and Pelícanos de Cabo San Lucas.

The CIBACOPA Basketball League first began play in 2001, a year after the inaugural 2000 Pro basketball League of Mexico that has featured such superstar players as former Chicago Bulls champion, Dennis Rodman; known as a defensive and rebounding specialist. The Trigueros of Ciudad Obregón have won the championships three times in 2002, '03, and '07, while Los Rayos de Hermosillo won back-to-back titles in 2012 and '13 and INDEM; which is the Institute of Sports of the Municipality of Los Cabos. Other sponsors of note, include Powerade sports drinks, Coors Light beer, Pacifico beer, Super Chicken Los Cabos, Greins House of Music, and Bajasur Private Security Alarms. 

During the month of January, the Pelicans team has been holding open try-outs even though they have a roster list of selected players from other parts of the country. The team will host their home games at the auditorium located at the Delegación Deportivo Sports Complex. The team's season schedule and price of admission will be posted soon on their Facebook page Pelícanos de Cabo San Lucas Basketball. Local games will also be telecast by Los Cabos TV, an internet-based television station. 

"I think it’s cool for the city, having something new. Something to talk about. I just hope we are good enough to compete," said Juan Carlos Soto, a Cabo San Lucas basketball junkie, originally from Dallas, Texas, who has been playing in local adult basketball leagues and tournaments since arriving in Cabo six years ago. "It's good to see the community come together to support a new team. It will allow a lot of local athletes to grow their basketball game. Also inspire the youth to play basketball. Besides their professional basketball team, they also have an academy to develop young talent. Plus it brings positive attention to Cabo San Lucas. Along with the San Jose del Cabo Marlins, the pro team creates competition between our two cities. Its all good. The only thing they need to fix is the basketball court, so they can have a nice presentable place to hold guests. It's very sad that a city like Cabo, the most popular tourist attraction in Mexico, doesn't have a nice wood gymnasium to play basketball. However they have a very nice soccer stadium next door. So it's surreal."

Like their counterparts in San Jose del Cabo, who sponsor a Marlins under-17 and 9-12 year old boys youth teams and a under-17 young girls team, The Cabo San Lucas Pelicans, have already added their own youth organizations and teams led by local former college players who are coaching them. Ramon Estavillo, whose credentials include playing for the Los Mochis, Sinaloa national team in high school and playing professionally in the same league from 2003-2012 with the Pioneros (Pioneers) of his hometown Los Mochis, Sinaloa, is coaching the CSL Pelicans boys youth team. 

"I think it's excellent that there will be a pro team here, and I'm going to support them and attend games," commented Gabriel H. Gamez, a Cabo San Lucas small-business owner. Adding that, "The bad thing is, we don't have many hoop courts. The adult league that plays there will have to hold their games at Cerrito de Timbre and Arenal, who both have terrible lighting."

"I want to go watch them play, and take my son," said Juan Pablo Garcia, whose passion for basketball started at a very young age growing up in Gervais, Oregon, where he played hoops for the Gervais Cougars in high school, wearing Kobe Bryant's #24. The small-town population of Gervais, Oregon was only 2,707 in 2017, and Cabo San Lucas, as well as the San Jose del Cabo Marlins, are playing by league comparison, in small market cities. 

The population in the State Capitol of Baja California Sur, La Paz, is 244, 200, which wholeheartedly supports their La Paz Manta Rays pro basketball team. And it is the hope of Pelicans general manager Abraham Sanchez that the team brings an added bonus to the 82,000 residents and basketball fans of Cabo San Lucas during this inaugural first spring season. Pelicanos team jerseys and attire are already on sale and the team mascot has been making their public relations, marketing rounds at promotional events. To follow the team go to Pelicanos de Cabo San Lucas Basketball on Facebook. The Pelicanos are the first professional team of any kind for Cabo San Lucas.