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MPBL opens next joust June 12


PhilBoxing.com




The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) will launch its second tournament on Independence Day, June 12, and founder Sen. Manny Pacquiao is optimistic that more teams will join to expand from a Luzon conclave with 10 teams in the inaugural edition to a nationwide competition involving up to 24 squads split into the Northern and Southern divisions.

The MPBL is now in the last stage of the playoffs with the Batangas Tanduay Athletics battling the Muntinlupa Cagers in the best-of-5 Finals. Batangas topped the single-round eliminations with an 8-1 record and disposed of Bataan, 2-0, in the best-of-3 quarterfinals before taking out Valenzuela, 2-0, in the best-of-3 semifinals. Muntinlupa was tied for second with Bulacan and Valenzuela, each posting an identical 6-3 slate, but was seeded No. 3 because of the quotient system. The Cagers bundled out Navotas, 2-0, in the quarterfinals and Paranaque, 2-1, in the semifinals.

Batangas drew first blood in the Finals with a 70-64 decision over Muntinlupa at home in the series opener yesterday (April 12). Game 2 is set for tomorrow (April 14), also at the Batangas City Coliseum. Action shifts to the Muntinlupa Sports Center for Game 3 on April 17 and if necessary, Game 4 on April 19. If it goes to a Game 5, the clincher will be in Batangas City on April 21. It was recently announced that the champion will receive a cash prize of P1 Million.

Pacquiao said the clamor to join the MPBL bandwagon is resounding. ?We?ll try to accommodate everyone,? he said. ?At the start, the franchise fee was P500,000. For the second conference, it?s up to P10 Million and I expect it to jump to P50 Million next year. That?s how strong the demand is. We want to give towns and cities all over the country a chance to participate so we can call the MPBL a truly nationwide league for the masses.?

The plan for the second tournament is to play a single-round elimination then there will be a series of playoffs within each division before the Northern and Southern winners dispute the championship in the Finals. It?s a format that?s similar to the NBA where instead of Northern and Southern divisions, it?s the Eastern and Western conferences. How many teams will advance to the playoffs is dependent on how many teams will participate. If there are 24 teams, eight could enter the playoffs in each division.

MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes intends to go on a roadshow late this month to invite teams from the Visayas and Mindanao to join. Davao Occidental, Cebu, Bacolod and General Santos City are among the teams showing interest to sign up for the second tournament. ?Maraming interested teams na gustong sumali sa second conference,? said Duremdes. ?We?re tappng Al Solis and Bonel Balingit as our deputies in Cebu.?

So far, the MPBL has accepted new franchises in Manila, San Juan, Laguna and Pasig. There are serious inquiries from Makati, Rosario in Cavite, Camarines Sur and Ilocos Sur. Manila will be coached by PBA legend Philip Cezar with PBA veterans Roger Yap, Riel Cervantes and Marcy Arellano in the lineup. Alab Pilipinas' Fil-Am Lawrence Domingo is being invited to beef up Makati. San Juan will be called the Knights and coach Randy Alcantara will bring in a cast led by PBA veterans MacMac Cardona and E. J. Fiehl. Rizal?s players will include PBA veterans Khazim Mirza, Kelvin Gregorio and Bonbon Custodio. Laguna?s coach will be Alex Angeles. If Makati joins, it will be coached by former La Salle guard Cholo Villanueva with PBA veterans Rudy Lingganay and Jeckster Apinan in the roster. An expansion draft will be held with existing teams protecting up to nine players in their cast.

Each team is allowed to recruit up to five ex-pros from the PBA, MBA or ABL with at least three players from the host city or town. No imports or guest teams are allowed. The MPBL has tapped the United Basketball Referees Association (UBRA) for its game officials. MPBL operations director Zaldy Realubit said the league has a pool of 18 to 20 referees under the UBRA of Bai Cristobal and George Magsino. Among the ex-pros in the MPBL are Gary David, Marlou Aquino, Val Acuna, Jong Baloria, Marlon Basco, Harold Arboleda, Chito Jaime, Paolo Hubalde, Sunday Salvacion, Mark Andaya and Al Vergara.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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