The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), dubbed "the league for every Filipino," fires off its inaugural season Thursday night at Araneta Coliseum with a grand opening ceremony and the debuts of the Parañaque Patriots and the Caloocan Supremos.
The league curtain-raiser will be broadcast live on national TV via ABS-CBN S+A and S+A HD starting at 7 p.m.
The pride of the South, the Patriots are led by the likes of former University of Perpetual Help hotshots Jett Vidal and Juneric Baloria, while former San Beda player Mar Villahermosa and Adamson alum Jan Colina banner the Supremos.
On Saturday, it will be a showdown between the Batangas City Athletics, led by former University of the East players Paul Varilla and Mark Olayon, against Valenzuela Classic’s homegrown players at 7 p.m.
That will be followed by the tiff between the Navotas Clutch (bannered by former Far Eastern University star Ron Dennison and former Lyceum big man Joseph Gabayni) and the Muntinlupa Cagers (bannered by former pros Chito Jaime and Al Vergara) at 9 p.m.
MPBL games air every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
A brainchild of Sen. Manny Pacquiao, MPBL aims to give players at the grassroots level, as well as undrafted and untapped basketball players a venue to showcase their skills and continue to pursue their basketball dreams.
ABS-CBN Integrated Sports head Dino Laurena said he is excited about the new league.
“It was very natural for us to get together because of our shared vision for Philippines sports and our desire to support Filipino athletes in the grassroots level,” he said.
Similar to the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association, the MPBL features teams that represent a province, city or municipality and a home-and-away format that gives teams a chance to play in front of hometown fans.
Currently, the league has 10 teams from Metro Manila and Luzon, with plans to expand in Visayas and Mindanao. The other teams this season are the Bataan Defenders, Bulacan Kuyas and teams from Imus and Quezon City.
The league’s commissioner, former PBA MVP Kenneth Duremdes, said that each team is required to have at least 3 players that are homegrown to the area.
Other prominent players taking part in the league are former pros such as Gary David and Parri Llagas and former NCAA stars such as Gab Dagangon, Ryusei Koga and Khiel Misa.
To encourage fans to watch the opening at the Big Dome, the league will be giving away one car and 10 motorbikes on Thursday.
Watch online via iwantv.com.ph or skyondemand.com.ph. For news and updates, visit sports.abs-cbn.com or follow ABS-CBN Sports on Facebook and Twitter.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)