The MPBL just concluded its fifth season, and yet league officials are already looking forward to the next one.
Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes said league founder Manny Pacquiao is now thinking of ways on how to maintain or even exceed the success gained in the recent season moving forward.
The league is looking to open its sixth season by March of next year as Pampanga Giant Lanterns emerged as the new national champion following a 3-0 sweep of Bacoor Strikers in the finals last week.
“Right after ng championship, nagpatawag agad ng meeting si Senator (Pacquiao) sa bahay niya. So nagse-celebrate pa ‘yung buong Pampanga nandu’n na kami sa bahay niya kasi he’s excited dahil nakita niya ‘yung growth and success ng league and gusto niya magkaroon agad ng plano this early,” said Duremdes in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the conference hall of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
While Pampanga was a dominant force in the playoffs, including becoming the first team to sweep the finals, Duremdes noted too, how the Lanterns are the fifth different national champion in five seasons of the league so far.
Batangas was the inaugural champion followed by San Juan, Davao Occidental, and Nueva Ecija.
“Kung mapapansin ninyo ang MPBL talaga is an unpredictable league. Walang dominant teams. History-wise since our inaugural season wala pang nakapag-back-to-back championship. And ngayon ang magiging barometer naman ng mga teams yung Pampanga,” said the PBA great in the session presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, MILO, Philippine Olympic Committee, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
“’Yun ang pinaka-exciting na part ng MPBL. Hindi mo alam kung sino ang mananalo,” said Duremdes, adding last year’s finalists Nueva Ecija and Zamboanga were both eliminated in this season’s playoffs.
“Nakita natin ‘yung improvement and level playing field at ‘yung quality ng mga players nag-improve talaga ng malaki.”
That perhaps has been the reason for the MPBL finally breaching the 1 million followers from its Facebook page.
“It was quite an achievement for the league,” said Duremdes.
After the holiday break, Duremdes said the MPBL will hold its pre-season games twice – one in the North and one in the South, which will all be televised.
“By January magkakaroon na kami ng pre-season, isa dito sa North and isa sa South sa GenSan by February,” he added.
Duremdes said the MPBL is also looking to add more games to its schedule by next season, while two more teams have submitted Letter of Intent (LOI) to join the regional league.