MANILA, Philippines -- The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) will still have plenty of stars in the coming season, even after seeing a bunch of its standouts get drafted to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) last year.
This, according to MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes who expressed his confidence that the league will discover new stars and diamonds in the rough.
"Kung may superstar na mawawala, masaya tayo dahil may mga upcoming superstar tayo na madi-discover, lalo na sa barangay level," Duremdes said in a recent appearance on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
"'Yun lang 'yung time na mapapakita nila ang mga talent nila," he added.
Duremdes added that the former PBA players who turn to the MPBL to extend their basketball career will also add star power to their league.
"'Yung mga PBA players naman na bumababa, na hindi nakaka-renew ng contracts, they're most welcome sa league natin," he explained. "Ang liga natin ay liga ng bawat Pilipino."
Several MPBL players heard their name called in the PBA Rookie Draft last December, foremost of whom was Basilan's Allyn Bulanadi who was selected by Alaska in the special draft and subsequently loaned to the Gilas Pilipinas program.
Mike Ayonayon, whose San Juan Knights squad is still in the thick of the playoffs, was picked by NLEX with the third pick of the first round. Others who also got selected include Zamboanga's Aaron Black to Meralco, Cebu's Will McAloney to NLEX, Manila's Aris Dionisio to Magnolia, and Manila's Chris Bitoon to Blackwater.
These players are the pride of the MPBL, said Duremdes.
"Ang purpose ng liga, first and foremost, is to give more exposure to these young players. 'Yun talaga ang una, kaya tinayo ang MPBL, maraming talents ang madi-discover dito. Wala nga lang ibang venues for them after college. 'Yung iba kasi, hindi nada-draft agad," he said.
"Kay Senator (Manny Pacquiao) naman, basta tapusin niyo ang commitment niyo sa team and sa season, kung mapalad ka na mapunta ka sa PBA, we're happy for you," Duremdes added. "Ang unang-unang matutuwa diyan ay si Senator at ako."