On June 12, the MPBL opened its Datu Cup at Araneta Coliseum with a parade of celebrity muses including Empress Schuck, Bea Alonzo, and Rachel Peters. The MPBL or the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League—and not the Manny Pacquiao Basketball League or the MetroPolitan Basketball League—is only on its second conference. Its debut conference ended last April, with the Tanduay Batangas Athletics edging out the Muntinlupa Cagers in a final that went down the wire, 68-66.
Here are some reasons why the MPBL is a different kind of ball game.
- Strictly for Filipinos only
Not only is Manny Pacquiao keen on implementing a strictly-no-imports rule, but each team’s roster can only have one half-Filipino no taller than 6’4.” Consider that other leagues spend so much money on contracts of imports who are expected to score bundles of points and take away playing time from the locals. Some of those imports are even journeymen who have played overseas and are just wrapping up their careers in our shores. Local competition is so much more fun to watch, and teams do not have to worry about getting imports who are lemons. Local players relish winning the championship through their own efforts.
- New faces, with tried and tested players
Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. debuted for Mandaluyong El Tigre, immediately making that team a contender. College basketball stalwarts like Prince Rivero and Bong Quinto are expected to see action as well. Other guys like Val Acuna, Gary David, and Jai Reyes will also suit up for their respective teams.
- The games are televised on ABS-CBN S+A three times a week
Sports buffs have noticed that games from last season’s NCAA conference are still replayed. The NBA, on the other hand, doesn’t start until October. Being a competitive league that is even able to compile its own highlights of buzzer-beating shots, dunks, and other exploits, the MPBL is just what the avid basketball fan is seeking.
- There is just enough money involved in winning in the MPBL
PhP150,000 is the maximum salary an MPBL player can get, after earning a minimum salary of PhP40,000 for at least half a year. This means there’s no danger of bidding wars in this young league.
- The more, the merrier
More cities will be participating, including Basilan and Zamboanga, with the teams competing for an 18-karat gold trophy worth PhP10 million.
Featured image from Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Facebook page.