From humble origins in GenSan, Manny Pacquiao's MPBL is now a nation-wide league
"Nagsimula lahat sa isang pangarap, na mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang mas maraming Pilipino na makapaglaro ng basketball sa professional level..." - Senator Manny Pacquiao
With the second season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League kicking things off, Tuesday evening, its steady rise to popularity continues
Following a successful inaugural season with ten teams, the playing field has expanded exponentially in the second season, now with 26 teams vying for the title of MPBL National Champion, as well as a very, very valuable piece of hardware.
(READ ALSO: MPBL: National Champions to get trophy worth ten million pesos)
And as the semi-professional league continues to grow, it’s amazing to think that it all started with a ‘pa-liga’ in General Santos City.
The brainchild of eight-division boxing world champion-turned Philippine Senator and avid basketball enthusiast Manny Pacquiao, the MPBL wasn’t always a nation-wide league.
“Itong MPBL kasi, the original name is Manny Pacquiao Basketball League, and we piloted it sa GenSan,” Pacquiao explained during the opening day of the 2018-2019 MPBL Anta Datu Cup, Tuesday at the Araneta Coliseum. “Nag-pilot kami ng ten seasons, parang pa-liga ko lang doon tapos open siya and maraming sumali. Nagkaroon kami ng 18 teams, hanggang ten seasons yun, ang premyo namin ay 1 million.”
After seeing that the league had potential, Senator Manny decided to take it to another level.
“Maganda naman yung resulta, tapos pinag-aralan ko ng mabuti kung ano yung mga dapat gawin, yung titignan natin, and then nung na-complete ko yung ten seasons, in-apply ko sa national.”
“[Pwede na ‘to] sa national, i-apply ko, ila-live ko sa TV.” Pacquiao added.
After two years of brainstorming and preparation, the MPBL as we know it now was born.
Pacquiao added that he decided to replace “Manny Pacquiao” with “Maharlika Pilipinas” so as not to stir anything up, given his political status.
From a simple league in General Santos to a nation-wide league that features 26 teams from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, all bannered by former professionals, collegiate hoop stars, and homegrown talents, the MPBL is definitely living up to what Pacquiao envisioned it to be: a platform for even more FIlipinos to showcase their basketball skills at a high level.
"Nagsimula lahat sa isang pangarap, na mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang mas maraming Pilipino na makapaglaro ng basketball sa professional level..." Sen. @mannypacquiao speaking at the opening of the 2018 MPBL Datu Cup. @abscbnsports pic.twitter.com/7PjRARV0bU— Santino Honasan🎈 (@honasantino) June 12, 2018
You can catch the exciting MPBL action on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23!