NORTH Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and Ilocos Norte of sports agent and now board member Matthew Manotoc are among those interested to join the next wave of participating teams and continuous expansion of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
On Wednesday night, MPBL officials, headed by its founder Senator Manny Pacquiao and League Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, met with the different groups, which expressed interest in becoming new members of the fastest growing regional basketball league.
Groups as far as Danao City and Masbate, three cities/towns in Laguna, and Metropolitan Manila, were represented during the meeting.
The intention of teams from the south could be the start of a nationwide basketball league, which is being envisioned by Mr. Pacquiao.
“That was really the plan. We want to make it the league for every player,” added Mr. Pacquiao.
Mr. Duremdes said he had received calls from his former PBA teammates — Al Solis and Bonel Balingit, who were very much involved in the basketball program in Cebu — and inquired on the possibility of the league’s expansion.
“It’s been awhile since they had a league in Cebu,” added Mr. Duremdes.
An MPBL franchise is now worth P10 million and the mode of payment is P4 million initial and P500,000 per month until the team completes full payment. A P200,000 tournament fee (per conference) and P200,000 bond, will also be imposed.
The bond is being used by the league where it will get the fines from the players and coaches, but it will be returned to the ball clubs right after the tournament.
Pasig City showed its readiness to join the MPBL, even giving a replica jersey of the Pasig Rios to Messrs. Pacquiao and Duremdes.
San Juan of former Senator Jinggoy Estrada, was also represented during the dinner meeting held at the Shang Palace in Makati.
There’s also a strong clamor from Taguig to join the MPBL and Ben Chan, the well-known entrepreneur who created the brand BENCH, is likely to bankroll the squad.
Makati was also represented so as the three towns/cities from Laguna — San Pedro, Sta. Rosa and Biñan.
But the most surprising group which showed up came from NLEX, although the group under the stable of telecommunications tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan, has yet to identify which local government unit it will link up.
It’s not definite as well which company among the MVP group the club will carry, although the NLEX company had previously joined several leagues carrying SCTEX, a group which is also under the umbrella of the controlling Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corporation, participating in the Merlion Cup in Singapore and winning the Marikina City Basketball League, while the team is being coached by PBA great Jojo Lastimosa.
Sources within the MVP group told BusinessWorld that the team might link up with Mandaluyong since its media company, TV5, is located there, and could also tie up with one of the cities or towns in Pampanga where current NLEX head coach and general manager Yeng Guiao, served as former vice-governor and congressman.
Mr. Guiao also heads the human resources projects of NLEX, having been actively involved in several activities in the northern part of Luzon. — Rey Joble