Roundtable: Discussing Issues in the MPBL

For the past few days, the upcoming MPBL has been on the receiving end of criticisms aired through the social media accounts of multiple personalities

With the second conference looming, several issues are still in question for the fledgling league.

Our digital ambassadors from FOX Sports PH are here to chime in on what’s up with the league:

1. What are your thoughts regarding the MPBL’s unprecedented growth?

Raymond Olgado: 25 (teams) is too high a number. I thought they would be expanding to just 16 teams in the second season. Whether they have this all planned out remains to be seen.

Jonas Reyes: The growth was unexpected. With just two months separating the pilot conference and the upcoming inaugural conference, I thought that the league would stick with the original 10 teams or at most three additional squads from Luzon. With expansion teams from Visayas and Mindanao, the MPBL will now face a challenge they never encountered in the Anta Rajah Cup – inter-island travel. Teams would incur additional expenses for travel and accommodation for their players, coaches and officials. Nevertheless, I believe that the league and the 25 teams are prepared financially and logistically as they venture into a bigger tournament.

Jordan Samar: To be honest, I was a bit nervous on the sudden increase of membership for the past two months after the first conference. Questions regarding logistics, financial matters, format come to mind since those were the problems that haunted the now-defunct MBA. But hopefully, the league officials have learned their lesson and apply it in terms of handling the league for the long run.

2. True or False: The one Fil-foreigner (with 6’4” height limit) policy is a bad look for the league.

Raymond Olgado: I’m 50/50 on this to be honest. I get why the rule was put into place – to let the local unknown players shine and get their time out in the sun. But I think their definition of a Fil-For is a bit off. The league has yet to hit one year and are finding their footing, they’ll eventually figure things out. There will be a team owner’s meeting this week, clarity on this issue should be near.

Jonas Reyes: True. This has been an age-old debate not just in the PBA, but also in the collegiate ranks. Yes, a Fil-foreign player denies a roster spot for a home-grown talent. However, the presence of these Fil-foreign recruits somehow raises the level of play in the country. The local players have to look for ways to offset the innate physical advantages of Fil-foreign standouts. Local players may rely on raw talent, creativity or just plain old “gulang” to gain an advantage over their Fil-foreign counterparts. That battle raises the level of competition for any basketball league. The MPBL should consider the positives that Fil-foreign players can contribute to the league.

Jordan Samar: True. But it really depends on what perspective you’re looking at. Personally, I’m all for upping the competition level, with or without the presence of fil-foreigners. In my mind, explaining into full detail what constitutes a “fil-foreigner” would be key for us fans to fully grasp the rationale behind their recent ruling. Balancing the crossing of players would also be an unenviable task for the league for sure.

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3. If you were the commissioner, what parameters/changes would you implement for the betterment of the league?

Raymond Olgado: Salary cap. This will hit two birds with one stone – first, parity in the league and secondly, answer the Fil-Am limit issue. Setting limits and guidelines for each team’s salary cap would be very helpful for the league’s parity overall. With this in play, the limit of Fil-Ams can be removed or at least made higher.

Jonas Reyes: Nothing major, actually. It was a good run by Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes and the MPBL front office in the pilot conference. The league was spared from major controversies in its initial conference, a testament to decent management by league officials. There is one minor change, though, that I wish to see. The MPBL should improve the viewing experience of the fans at the playing venues by mandating team owners to improve the ventilation at their home stadiums. It became a common sight in the first conference to see the crowd profusely fanning themselves during games. I could just imagine how humid it is inside the venues.

Jordan Samar: I would also implement the ideas shared by my colleagues. Furthermore, I would like the MPBL to host basketball clinics across different cities just like how they do it in the PBA, since the MPBL is heavily focused on the grassroots level. Not only this would provide an avenue for fan interactions, it could be a breeding program for our ballers nationwide.