MPBL players drafted into PBA face uncertainty as leagues plan restart

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 16 2020 04:41 PM

Mike Ayonayon of San Juan-Go for Gold. Handout photo.

MANILA, Philippines -- Stars of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) who were drafted into the PBA last year face some uncertainty with both leagues planning to resume their seasons that have been halted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PBA is looking to resume the All-Filipino Conference, while the MPBL is waiting for the go signal from the government before completing the playoffs of the Lakan Cup. 

The situation remains vague for players like Mike Ayonayon of the NLEX Road Warriors, who still has a contract with San Juan-Go for Gold -- a team that is currently competing in the North Division finals of the MPBL.

NLEX selected Ayonayon with the third pick of the first round, after a strong campaign for San Juan in the MPBL.

"Ang mangyayari ngayon diyan is, papayagan ba sila ng PBA team na nag-draft sa kanila, na may contract sila? Or, on the other way, papayagan ba sila ng team ng MPBL na hindi pa tapos ang season, magpo-pro na sila?" said MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes during an appearance at the PSA Forum on Tuesday.

Duremdes said they don't want to stand in the way of their players' PBA dreams. Indeed, it's a point of pride for them that their stars are drafted into the pro league.

At the same time, he pointed out that MPBL founder Sen. Manny Pacquiao has always asked their players to honor their contracts and commitments to their mother teams.

"Ang sabi lang niya (Pacquiao) palagi is 'yung commitment, tapusin muna nila," said Duremdes.

"Pero iba ang situation ngayon, kasi nga pandemic, and magre-resume na ang PBA, maglalaro na sila," he said.

The MPBL is looking to complete its postseason in a bubble. The PBA is planning the same, with the board of the pro league set to meet on Thursday to determine the exact format of the "bubble," as well as the venue.

At the moment, Duremdes has no exact answer on how to work out a situation like Ayonayon's.

"Ang ano lang is, paano 'pag nag-resume kami? Papayagan ba sila ng mga teams na nag-draft sa kanila? 'Yun ang question doon," he said.