UNDISCOVERED Filipino basketball talents and former collegiate and professional players will get their chance to shine on national TV as Senator Manny Pacquiao’s Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League will now be shown on ABS-CBN S+A.
ABS-CBN Sports head Dino Laurena, ALV Events International chairman Arnold Vegafria, and MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes announced this yesterday as they sealed their broadcast and media partnership for the league, which will open its inaugural season this Jan. 25 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The entire country can catch the opening ceremony and games live on S+A and S+A HD, which will be regularly airing MPBL games every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m.
“Through Senator Manny Pacquiao’s vision, we have a basketball league that truly reaches the grassroots level. Finally, Filipinos from all walks of life who have the talent and passion for the game will be able to show their mettle in the hardcourt. We are thankful for I hope advertisers and basketball fans will support this. This is another platform where Pinoys can find their potential basketball heroes,” said Vegafria, the business manager of Pacquiao and overall head of MPBL.
Laurena expressed his excitement with the entry of the MPBL S+A, which aims to give grassroots athletes and undrafted or untapped basketball players a venue to showcase their skills and continue to pursue their basketball dreams.
“It was very natural for us to get together because of our shared vision for Philippines sports and our desire to support Filipino athletes in the grassroots level. Serendipitously, we are celebrating the anniversary of the MBA (Metropolitan Basketball Association) this year, which had the same concept and objective,” he said.
Similar to the MBA, the MPBL features teams that represent a province, city, or municipality in the country and has a home and away format that will give the teams a chance to play in their home court in front of their fans. Currently, the league has 10 teams from Metro Manila and Luzon, and will eventually expand to include teams from Visayas and Mindanao.
Commissioner Duremdes also said that each team is required to have at least three players that are truly homegrown to the area.
“The advantage of this is really the pride of the players playing for their respective provinces and cities. We also believe that it will be more exciting because of the support of the fans for their teams. In the preseason, we can really see that they are excited as they also want to see their home players succeed,” he said.
MPBL team coordinator Emmerson Oreta, a former professional player like Duremdes, added that their long-term goal is to have all teams featuring all homegrown players, like their preseason champion, the Bulacan Kuyas.
Helping Duremdes and Oreta in running the league is another former professional and national team player Zaldy Realubit, who heads the operations, and assistant commissioner Satar Macantal, Pacquiao’s childhood friend who played for Pacquiao’s local team and helped him organize basketball leagues in their hometown of General Santos City.
Vegafria emphasized that the MPBL would not be possible without the vision and passion of Pacquiao, who also briefly played pro basketball in the country.
“This is a novel project of Sen. Manny Pacquiao to give chance to athletes that have the capacity but never had the chance to play in the other leagues,” he said.
To further encourage fans to watch the opening at the Araneta Coliseum, Vegafria said they will be giving away one car and 10 motorbikes on Jan. 25.