Less than a year ago, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League opened shop with 10 community-based teams with the corporate partnership.
Now, membership has grown to a mind-boggling 26 community-based teams, offering employment to hundreds of Filipino cagers that otherwise would have been out of jobs today with the death of topnotch post-graduate basketball leagues with enough credibility and stability.
National boxing icon Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, who also dabbles in basketball, is one kind soul who saw through this vacuum. With the support of league commissioner and former national team Kenneth Duremdes, the renowned eight-weight world boxing champion came up with the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League with the same passion of nationalism that he carries every time he enters the boxing ring.
Maharlika Pilipinas actually came from Manny Pacquiao, the world boxing champs who like playing basketball, instead of using his name for a league, “M” became Maharlika and “P” became Pilipinas. The league started just a fun tournament held in GenSan City or Cotabato City where Pacquiao is really involved playing basketball.
Pacquiao saw the need to set up a new league to help hundreds of displaced athletes earn a living through playing basketball.
Pacquiao painstakingly established the MPBL from scratch following years of planning and soul-searching. The “Maharlika Pilipinas” league was by conceptualized by the Senator himself. It may have the same acronym as the first initials his legendary name, but in reality, it carries with it a more nationalistic undertone.
The 39-year-old Pacquiao knows that basketball is the Filipinos’ national pastime. Yet, his own love for basketball far transcends the dreams of other passionate Filipino athletes from all over the country who look to excel in the sport but have been unable to ply their trade because of the absence of top-flight leagues.
Because of this void, some of them have been forced to leave their families home and seek basketball jobs overseas, notably showing their wares in professional leagues in Southeast Asia such as in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand despite the lack of security of employment as most contracts last only for three months or even less. You have to be extremely fortunate to land a one-year deal.
Pacquiao came up with a new nationwide basketball league that offers player salaries equivalent – if not more than those offered by leagues in the various SEA countries.
Community-based with a nationwide flavor, the MPBL features some of the best post-graduate and amateur players from the Metro Manila and National Capital Region, and from the country’ three major islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
Since these athletes are not “professionals” in the real sense of the word, they need not pay certain fees related to their work.
Operating in partnership with the local government units, the image and credibility of the MPBL have been immensely boosted, greatly enhanced by the nationwide “live” television coverage of its games by its broadcast partner Sports + Action of the ABS-CBN group.
Like many outstanding champion athletes in the international scene, Pacquiao wants to give some back to the Filipino sports fans that have been supportive of him throughout a checkered boxing career that has given the former ‘pan de sal’ vendor all the fame and fortune that he could possibly amassed in a lifetime.
Pacquiao is now also into youth sports as he is involved in the 1st Philippine University Basketball League, an international qualifying league that will qualify the winner to the “Pacquiao Youth Champ Trophy”–10th Asian University Basketball Championship, to be hosted by the Santa Rosa City local government under Mayor Danilo Ramon S. Fernandez.
The international tournament will be held from Nov. 18 to 23 this year with AUBC Organizing Committee chaired by Leonardo Andres Sr., who is also the FESSAP Regional Director of Region IV.
The PUBL got underway last Oct. 15. With a crossover format, the Final Four playoffs in the four different divisions will be held from Nov. 7 to 9 at the Rizal Technological University gym in Mandaluyong City.
The PUBL is being held under the supervision of the Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines, the sole university sports association recognized by the International University Sports Federation, the world governing body for university sports.
Games in the PUBL are being played in school gymnasiums to give it some local flavor.
A community-based league and a collegiate league that have the unequivocal support of the Pacquiao can only redound to the betterment of Philippine sports.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.