There has been numerous buzz about how some teams in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) are experiencing financial woes. For those who can remember, this is not really new. The defunct MBA also ran through a similar path, and we can see history repeat itself.
What has changed from the time of the MBA (1998-2000) and the present? For one thing, the MPBL was backed by Sen. Manny Pacquiao, and for what it’s worth, it has generated some buzz. The only question is how committed the People’s Champ is with the league. He was also associated with the Kia (now Columbian Dyip) team in the PBA. The team even wasted a first round pick on him.
Side note: Yes, wasted. There, I said it. Much as I am a fan of Manny Pacquiao in boxing, he is not in any way PBA-level in basketball. There were a lot of players in the 2014 Draft that could have helped an expansion team like Kia (Juami Tiongson, Rome dela Rosa, Paolo Taha, Brian Heruela, Kyle Pascual are now contributors on their teams). With this move, you would know just how serious Kia is in actually competing in the PBA.
The harvest is plenty
Another advantage for MPBL is that there are more players now than in 1998. This is precisely why it is easier for them to exist. The PBA is still a very exclusive club of 12, and there is wealth of talent in the college leagues for the MPBL to harvest.
In the years before the MPBL, there were many star college players in limbo. Some of them, like Jerwin Gaco became D-League veterans. For these players (and their fans), the MPBL was a godsend.
Carving their own niche
Another good move for the MPBL is that they established their position early. They were not out to knock off the PBA. Because of the immense financial power of the PBA teams, there really was no way they could compete with Asia’s oldest professional league.
It should be noted that there was a tug-of-war in 1998 between the Pangasinan Presidents and the PBA’s San Miguel Beer (of all teams). We all know who won in that tussle, and that still holds true. In that aspect, the MPBL has learned from the MBA.
However, a local league will still fall prey to politics, and that was exactly what happened. In an election year, the league ballooned to 31 teams, and some of those teams that mushroomed may not actually be committed, or capable of staying in the long haul.
There could be a reduction of the number of teams, and that may even be a good thing. It’s better to weed out those who are just using the league for their ulterior motives.
The MPBL is better than the PBA D-League, which is currently a mess with accusations of game-fixing emerging. The only reason players still play there is because the PBA required it. The D-League can still exist as colleges use it for off-season tune ups, and perhaps for short-term investors who assemble a team for one conference. But it should be clear that they are just a stopover, because the MPBL is the league where the players who do not get signed in the big-league stay for the long term.
Truth for the Tamaraws
Whenever I watch the UAAP and NCAA, I can’t help but rate the players. Some are good enough for Gilas, there are PBA players and some would most likely end up in the MPBL.
In the recent tussle between the UP Fighting Maroons and the FEU Tamaraws, we can see that there is no superstar on the roster of the Tams. No household names yet, but we have to commend how FEU consistently recruits quality talent. Barkley Ebona, Ken Tufifn, Alex Stockton and InoComboy are the typical Tams who are gritty, tough and get the job done. They are longshots for the PBA.
The only reason they are not stars is because they lack the consistency of a Kobe Paras or Dave Ildefonso. They are building up rookie LJ Gonzales as the next Johnny Abarrientos, though.