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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson



League for the masses

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
30 Jan 2018




The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) got off to a rousing start with a high-quality opening program at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Thursday night and founder Sen. Manny Pacquiao was on hand to witness his dream of creating a platform of opportunity for the masses come true.

The MPBL features a home-and-away format with 10 franchises representing a city, town or province so there is an attachment to a home crowd. The teams are the Bataan Defenders, Batangas Tanduay Athletics, Bulacan Kuyas, Caloocan Supremos, Imus Bandera, Muntinlupa Cagers, Navotas Clutch, Paranaque Patriots, Quezon City Capitals and Valenzuela Classic. The games will move around each homecourt to bring the league closer to where the fans are.

“With the help and support of everyone, we envision the MPBL to become a top-notch basketball league for the masses, providing poor and underprivileged basketball players the needed exposure and aiding them to reach superstardom while opening up opportunities for PBA players to extend their basketball careers,” said Pacquiao. “Because of my passion for basketball and my commitment to grassroots sports development, I was convinced to organize the MPBL.”
****

Pacquiao said aside from boxing, chess and billiards, the sport that is close to his heart is basketball. He’s in the record books as the oldest player ever drafted in the PBA. In 2014, Pacquiao was 35 when Kia picked him in the first round ahead of eight players still active in the pro league----Rome de la Rosa, Prince Caperal, John Pinto, Frank Golla, Kyle Pascual, Brian Heruela, Kenneth Ighalo, Paolo Taha and Raul Soyud. He played 10 games over three PBA seasons, collecting 13 points, five rebounds and two assists while managing his time to attend to his duties in public office and his boxing career.

Pacquiao said the MPBL has no intention of competing with the PBA. “Ngayon pa lang, gusto na natin linawin na iba ang set-up nitong liga,” he said. “Hindi tayo kakompetensiya ng PBA. Iba ang MPBL. With high-caliber referees and technical teams, we will move the competitions to new levels of excellence and excitement.”

Pacquiao tapped former PBA MVP Kenneth Duremdes as MPBL commissioner and Satar Macantal as deputy commissioner with PBA veterans Zaldy Realubit, Bai Cristobal and Emmerson Oreta supervising operations. According to Duremdes, each team is required to enlist at least three players from the host home and up to only five ex-pros from the PBA or ABL. There is no salary cap and team owners are free to negotiate whatever terms they agree with their players. Duremdes said Fil-Ams with Philippine passports may join but the league reserves the right to turn down a player who may create a match-up problem because of size or ceiling.
****

Former PBA players are welcome to the MPBL but each team is restricted to a limit of five veterans. Among the PBA vets in rosters are Gary David, 39, Marlou Aquino, 45, Marlon Basco, 39, Sunday Salvacion, 39, Paolo Hubalde, 37, Philip Butel, 37, Mark Andaya, 36, Chris Baluyot, 36, Al Vergara, 38, Egay Billones, 42, James Martinez, 30, Jong Baloria, 27, Val Acuna, 31, Harold Arboleda, 27 and Chito Jaime, 34. Legendary coach Aric del Rosario, former Kia coach Chris Gavina and Elvis Tolentino are among those calling the shots for MPBL teams.

Ex-collegiate players looking for a break are also in the mix, including Adamson’s Jan Colina, Dawn Ochea, Terrence Mustre and Rob Manalang, FEU’s Ron Dennison, UE’s Paul Varilla and Mark Olayon, San Beda’s Ryusei Koga and Perpetual’s Jett Vidal.

Arnold Vegafria was the man in charge of the production of the inaugural program which was an entertainment treat with a dazzling show of lights, sounds, dance and song. Vegafria, ALV Events International president and Pacquiao’s business manager, is the MPBL’s marketing head. The league’s legal counsel is Atty. Brando Verniesto. Games will be shown live on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays on the ABS-CBN network. “Everything that we do from this day forward will greatly affect our country’s performance in the sporting arena,” said Pacquiao. “Preparation and determination are very important. We shall maximize the opportunities through the MPBL. We will exhibit unity, solidarity and diplomacy through basketball.”


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