Sen. Manny Pacquiao

 

MPBL won’t compete with PBA
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - September 2, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -  Sen. Manny Pacquiao said the other day he has no intention for the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), his latest sports venture, to compete with the PBA where the boxing icon is listed as playing head coach of the Kia/Mahindra franchise.

Pacquiao explained that the MPBL will introduce a novel format with a distinct barangay and commercial flavor. The league is set to be inaugurated on Sept. 23 with 12 franchises. The concept is to play barangay and commercial games on the same day. Pacquiao said under negotiation is a TV contract where selected games will be shown live on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The commercial side will feature host cities or towns for each team with a corporate sponsor. The barangay component will take a “farm” concept where players showcase their skills for scouts to determine if they’re ready for elevation to the commercial league. It appears that mechanics are still being ironed out as to whether barangay players may be available for immediate call-ups or they will be gathered for a draft to start a new season. Whatever is the final process, Pacquiao said the idea is to give barangay players the chance to be discovered and perform on the big stage.

The league format will be home-and-away. Quezon City, Marikina, San Juan, Makati, Paranaque, Bulacan, Pampanga, Laguna, Batangas, Manila and Malabon are among the possible hosts for teams in the first season. 

Pacquiao said the opening franchise fee is P500,000 and some companies are lining up to pay even without a team to guarantee a place in the league. “The plan is to raise the franchise fee to at least P2 Million after the first conference or season,” he said. “So companies are looking to invest now at the initial offering fee.” Pacquiao identified two companies that had teams in the PBA D-League as among the initial investors.

Pacquiao said there is no age limit for players at the barangay or commercial level. But the MPBL will not recruit imports. “Fil-foreigners are welcome for as long as they’re dual citizens with Philippine passports,” he said. “We’ll also welcome ex-PBA players who want to continue playing.” Pacquiao singled out Zaldy Realubit and Allan Caidic as two former PBA players who are helping out the MPBL in the front office.

“At the start, the MPBL will play only in Luzon but as we move forward, my plan is to divide the league into the North and South divisions,” he said. “We’ll play a regular season then split the playoffs for teams in the North and teams in the South like in the NBA. The best team in the North will play the best team in the South in the Finals.” It’s likely that the MPBL will play one tournament or season per year. Pacquiao said at the end of five seasons, the MPBL will offer a grand cash prize for the champion teams. The more championships a team wins, the more cash it will earn in every five-season cycle.

“I don’t intend to compete with the PBA,” said Pacquiao. “The MPBL will bring in a different set of players.” It’s possible that players who shine in the MPBL will eventually get the opportunity to be drafted by the PBA so the leagues could be complementary. 

Regarding officiating, Pacquiao said the MPBL will come up with a selection process where referees are chosen to work specific games by lottery on the playing day itself. Referees will not know their assignments until the lottery. Pacquiao said the MPBL will make sure officiating is fair to all teams and transparent.

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