The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League and Cignal TV start their newly forged partnership with the staging of the league’s fourth season on April 25 at the Batangas City Sports Coliseum.
Senator Manny Paquiao, chairman and founder of the country’s top regional league, and bigwigs of Cignal, the country’s premier DTH satellite provider, sealed the agreement Friday night at Conrad Manila Hotel, Seaside Boulevard, Pasay City.
MPBL inaugural champion Batangas City Athletics and Datu Cup champion San Juan Knights head the 20 teams competing in the round-robin elimination round of the tournament which deviated from its usual June 12 opening.
Pacquiao and MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes signed the contract with PGNL president and CEO Ernesto “Bong” Santamaria and Guido Caballero, Cignal chief revenue officer.
Also present were Patrick Paez, Cignal head of news content, Sienna Olaso, VP of channels and content, and Miguel Vea, AVP head of channel management and programming.
The majority of the owners or representatives of the MPBL’s 32 teams, operations head Emmer Oreta and league operations coordinator Joe Ramos were also present.
Joining Batangas and San Juan are Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Makati, Bataan, Valenzuela, Manila, Zamboanga, Imus, Bacolod, Saranggani, General Santos City, Negros Occidental, Mindoro, Pasig, Rizal, Quezon City, Marikina, and Caloocan.
Pasig, San Juan, and Rizal were originally listed among the tentative teams, while Quezon City, Marikina, and Caloocan were among those taking a leave of absence,
Pacquiao’s persuasive powers, however, swayed the six teams to participate.
Other teams listed on the tentative side are Bacoor, Laguna, Pasay, and Bicol. Teams that intend to take a leave of absence are Cebu, Iloilo, Bulacan, Navotas, Paranaque, Basilan and Davao Occidental.
According to Pacquiao, who came from a campaign sortie in Nasugbu and Calatagan, Batangas, the trophy and rings of the Davao Occidental Tigers, champions of the MPBL Lakan Cup, will be handed out during the opening ceremonies.
Pacquiao said the league would have sanctioned an MPBL tournament in the United Arab Emirates in 2020 but the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the league’s schedule.
Knowing that many teams were affected by the pandemic, Pacquiao said a percentage of league earnings this year would be given to the team owners to help them tide things over.
Each team will have a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 24 players, including seven former PBA players, five varsity players with special guest licenses from the Games and Amusement Board, at least three homegrown, and two Fil-foreigners, who must be at least 18 years old and Philippine passport holder.
In addition to One Ph, which is available to Cignal TV’s four-million subscribers, the MPBL games can also be viewed in the United States, Canada, and the Middle East through the Kapatid Channel.