BATANGAS City Athletics-Tanduay owner Bong Tan believes the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) will continue to grow if it remains true to its identity as a homegrown, grassroots league.
The son of taipan Lucio Tan said he is happy with the progress the league made in its maiden conference, which saw the Athletics win the championship by beating Muntinlupa in four games in the finals.
As the league prepares for another conference where it is set to expand to 20 teams, Tan said the MPBL will continue to thrive if it sticks to its brand of homegrown basketball.
”Tuluy-tuloy ‘yan basta 'wag natin pasukan ng pulitika. Basta basketball, basketball,” said Tan on Tuesday night during the Athletics’ victory party.
Tan also said the MPBL should hold off from challenging the PBA and avoid the mistakes made in the past by the defunct Metropolitan Basketball League (MBA).
“Basta wag natin pasukan ng pulitika at wag gamitin ‘yung pera pera kasi sa MBA, parang tapon pera eh. Talagang mina-match ‘yung PBA eh. Umpisa ka lang, paano mo i-mamatch ‘yung PBA,” said Tan.
The MBA had an impressive but short-lived run under more or less the same format - but on a grander scale - as the MPBL, its progress impeded by high costs until it folded in 2002.
Tan said the MBPL should continue to take advantage of its strengths.
“Gawin nating iba. ‘Yung mission vision, homegrown, grassroots, home-and-away, ‘yung wala sa PBA,” said Tan, who used to run the Tanduay franchise, both in the PBL and the PBA.
Despite the success in the first conference, Tan said the MPBL still has a lot of room for improvement, particularly in terms of venues and security.
“Meron tayong sense of home although marami tayong kailangang i-improve. Number one, ‘yung mga venues. Magaganda ang mga venues pero ‘yung iba, walang aircon, ‘yung iba kulang sa aircon.
"‘Yung security, minsan ‘yung mga tao, kailangan i-scrutinize natin hindi ‘yung lahat, puwede pumasok kasi baka manggulo. Maybe, we have to get an entrance fee na maliit,” said Tan.
Tan also lauded league founder, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, for giving several players a chance to showcase their talent.
“Nag-usap kami sa Shangrila nung nagpa-plano siya ng tournament. Sabi ko, basta ang hinihingi ko lang sa kanya, ‘yung play fair, walang isang may-ari na dalawa ang teams kasi magulo ‘yun at wag natin pasukan ng pulitika,” said Tan.