WHEN the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League was put up by Senator Manny Pacquiao, the ultimate goal was to create a sanctuary for local and homegrown players who are either barely given opportunities to showcase their wares or looking to get a second chance of making it to the big league.
We’ve seen how 10 teams were able to made a huge buzz, games packed to the rafters almost every play date and players – either ex-pros, homegrown or local standouts – were given more exposures, careers born and livelihoods created even for those who were having humble beginnings.
For just one conference, the MPBL was able to establish its identity – a league geared towards promoting fair play and a stage for homegrown and local players to showcase their talent. Such concept contributed to the league’s success and proof of that was the interest it drew from the audience, the private sectors and the local government units.
From 10 original members, league participation went up to 25 and the expansion has reached all the way to Visayas and Mindanao.
The idea of putting the local and homegrown players at the forefront is what makes the league unique not to mention the fact that it has maintained parity in competition to all participating squads.
As the league grows, the MPBL also realized the need to open up its door to our Fil-foreign players with the conditions set by the Commissioner’s Office that they should have been a resident of the country for the past two years, had played college ball in the Philippines and a Philippine passport holder.
The league also tried to limit Fil-foreign players to just one per team with a height limit of 6-foot-4. MPBL is open to these players, but should abide by the guidelines just like any other leagues – local or international.
“We’ve in fact opened our doors to our Fil-foreign players, but just like in any other leagues, there are guidelines that need to be followed,” said MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes.
Limiting Fil-foreign players do exist in other local leagues. In the PBA, a team should not exceed the limit of having five Fil-foreign players in its roster.
In fact, there was a time the league even raised the idea of limiting the Fil-foreign players. Sta. Lucia and FedEx, which later on became Air 21, had little preference on getting Fil-foreign players.
“We don’t want our local players to become minority in our own backyard,” said Sta. Lucia team manager Buddy Encarnado in one of the interviews.