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MPBL returns with 22 teams, plans closed-circuit setup at Mall of Asia Arena

John Bryan Ulanday - Philstar.com
MPBL returns with 22 teams, plans closed-circuit setup at Mall of Asia Arena

MANILA, Philippines – Twenty-two teams so far have thrown their hats to the much-awaited return of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) for the Chooks-to-Go-backed Invitational Tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena next month.

After initial plans of playing in either Caloocan, Antipolo or Sta. Rosa, commissioner Kenneth Duremdes said the league is already ironing out details with the Pasay City venue under a closed-circuit set-up when it opens shop anew on December 11-21.

Accommodation of fully-vaccinated fans, pending the go-signal of the Inter-Agency Task Force, is also in play with Metro Manila now under a more relaxed Alert Level 2 situation amid the pandemic.

“Hopefully, the venue (MOA) can be confirmed today. We’re ready and excited. This is the right time to reignite the league after our long hiatus,” Duremdes said in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum yesterday.

Defending champion Davao Occidental and archrival San Juan banner the cast in the MPBL’s first tourney since finishing the pandemic-delayed Lakan Season last March in Subic under a full-bubble setting.

Apart from a transition to the metropolis under a semi-bubble environment, the MPBL Invitationals will also serve as the league’s walk through for a professional shift soon under the monitoring of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

“FIBA will be watching how we run a tournament. It will be our testing ground for the pros,” added Duremdes as the Invitationals follow a FIBA-type format for 10 days.

The 22 squads will be divided into four groups playing in a single-round robin format. Top two teams of each pool then advance to the crossover knockout phase all the way to the finals.

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