MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes assured the league's war against game-fixing will continue following the suspension of several players and coaches of the Soccsksargen Marlins in the ongoing Lakan Season.
Duremdes said the suspension meted on the Marlins is just the start of the drive as the MPBL led by its founder Sen. Manny Pacquiao is determined to get to the bottom of the malaise that has put the league games under a cloud.
Duremdes, however, warned that those involved in game-fixing are influential persons, which is why Pacquiao sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
“Etong Soccskargen ang start and based sa initial na mga sinasabi, malaki at malalaking tao ang nasa likod. Hindi na tayo magtataka, Chinese national,” said Duremdes during the ONE PH’s Isport Lang program hosted by Zaldy Perez and Randy Caluag on Tuesday.
"We will dig deeper kasi nag-warning na si Senator na ‘yung game na ito ay para sa kasiyahan at bigay natin sa mga kababayan natin na mahihilig sa basketball," the former PBA MVP added.
Duremdes said the MPBL holds hard evidence against those involved in game-fixing after a former assistant coach spoke out on the issue.
“Humingi kami ng assistance sa NBI dahil may former staff sila na naging coach nila at assistant coach na naging witness dito. Siya nagsabi na may nangyayaring ganun. Humingi kami ng tulong sa NBI at humingi sila ng statement,” said Duremdes.
Duremdes said the MPBL was not remiss in its duties to warn all MPBL stakeholders not to get involved in such illegal activities.
“Ilang beses na siyang [Pacquiao] nagpatawag ng meeting sa team owners and players at nag-warning na siya. Then again, parang hindi sila convinced sa message ni Senator eh. Gusto ni Senator, may masampolan dito sa investigation.”
In the meantime, Duremdes said the Marlins continue its participation in the Lakan Season with different players and coaches after more than half of the players were placed under suspension.
Those who have remained are the homegrown players of the squad.
The Marlins played on Tuesday at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna, losing to the Pampanga Giant Lanterns, 115-71, for their 19th defeat in as many outings.
“Ang sinuspend ng MPBL, ‘yung staff and some of the players pero ‘yung franchise, meron pa rin silang naka-schedule na mga games. Kumuha kami ng mga free agents para lang makapaglaro itong team na ‘to but different players and coaching staff dahil sa alleged game-fixing ng team,” said Duremdes.
Duremdes reiterated the league’s warning to players and coaches not to get involved in illegal activities.
“Talagang cleansing ‘to and warning to everyone na may gagawin sila or may binabalak pa. Hindi talaga titigil si Senator dito,” said Duremdes.