Basketball talents from local communities and former collegiate and professional players are given a chance to shine on national TV as the first season of Senator Manny Pacquiao‘s Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) was launched yesterday, January 25, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

According to the founder Sen. Pacquiao, this project will support the youth who are interested in the sport. From the grassroots, good players will be discovered. He emphasized that the Maharlika Pilipinas League will not be competing against other basketball leagues in the country. In fact, he said, “It’s possible that players who shine in the MPBL will eventually get the opportunity to be drafted by other leagues so it could be complementary.

Arnold Vegafria, ALV Events International chairman and business manager of Sen. Pacquiao, entertained questions from the press at the media launch. He serves as the overall head of production and marketing of MPBL. Also present in the launch was ABS-CBN Sports Head Dino Laurena who expressed excitement over the league which aims to give hope for undrafted or untapped players. He also shared that the launch coincides with this year’s anniversary of the MBA (Metropolitan Basketball Association). The now defunct basketball league had the same concept and objective.

Like MBA, MPBL features teams that represent a province, city, municipality in the country and has a home and away format that will give the teams a chance to play in their home court. Currently, the league has 10 teams from Metro Manila and Luzon representing Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Caloocan, Imus, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Quezon City, and Valenzuela. The league eventually plans to include teams from Visayas and Mindanao.

MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes said that each team is required to have at least three players who are homegrown in an area. This is to promote pride in playing for their respective provinces and cities. MPBL Team Coordinator Emmerson Oreta, a former professional player like Duremdes, added that their long-term goal is to have all teams featuring homegrown players. Helping him and Duremdes is former professional and national team player Zaldy Realubit, heading the operations, and Assistant Commissioner Satar Macantal, Sen. Pacquiao’s childhood buddy who played for the senator’s local team and helped him organize leagues in their hometown General Santos City.

MPBL gave away a car and 10 motorbikes yesterday to encourage fans to watch the opening at Araneta Coliseum.

The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League telecast is a production of ALV Events International and ABS-CBN Sports + Action. Catch the games every TUESDAY, THURSDAY, and SATURDAY, from 7 to 11PM.

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