MANILA, Philippines -- Nineteen teams, including last season's finalists San Juan and Davao Occidental, are committed to play in the 2021 Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Mumbaki Cup.
League commissioner Kenneth Duremdes said Tuesday that 19 teams have confirmed their participation for the upcoming season, including a new team based in Negros.
"Meron tayong bago na sumali diyan, 'yung Negros. Bale new team siya at sasali siya sa bubble natin 'pag natuloy tayo," Duremdes said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
"And 'yung finalists, andoon, 'yung finalists natin," he added. "May natanggap din ako na gustong sumali din, but we're still waiting for their letter of intent, kung aabot sila."
The league is hoping to start the Mumbaki Cup as soon as possible, though it is still in the process of securing the necessary permits from the government.
Initially, the MPBL targeted a June 12 opening, but as the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has yet to give them the go signal to resume practices, Duremdes has admitted that it is unlikely they can start the season on that date.
Once the IATF has allowed the MPBL teams to practice, they must then get permission from the local governments where they are based. Duremdes said he plans to give teams at least two weeks to practice before they officially start the season.
The MPBL is once again planning to hold its games in a bubble, possibly in Subic where they concluded last season's Lakan Cup. There are two venues in Subic that they can use, according to Duremdes.
"Dalawang venue and we play Monday to Saturday -- three games sa kabilang court, three games sa kabilang court," he explained. "Para mabilis ' yung tournament natin."
"Sa 19 teams, na-compute na namin 'yung mga total games. Aabot tayo ng finals, most likely, in two and a half months to three months kung walang mga delays," he added.
However, Duremdes warned that delays will occur should there be any MPBL teams that return positive COVID-19 results. The commissioner said that they are required to undergo saliva tests every seven days.
"Any moment naman na magkaroon ng positive, magkakaroon ng delay 'yun. Dahil mag-aadjust 'yung team, hindi puwedeng maglaro, magka-quarantine 'yun, magkakaroon ulit ng swab," he said. "So masisira ang schedule mo, gagawa ka na naman ng panibago na adjustment."
"So 'yun ang mga tinitingnan natin na medyo aabot siya ng three months kung saka-sakaling may mga delay," he said.
The MPBL's Lakan Cup ran for over a year as the playoffs were suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn't until March 2021 that the season concluded in the Subic bubble, with Davao Occidental emerging as champions.
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