MANNY Pacquiao did not need to look far for inspiration when he initially thought of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).
Speaking to reporters during the opening of the newest regional league to be launched in the country, the legendary boxer turned senator shared he knew exactly what it feels like to be an athlete raring for an opportunity to break out.
“Makakatulong ito sa provinces at cities. In time, makaka-discover tayo ng magagaling na basketball players,” said Pacquiao, pointing out the he would not have become a world champion if not for a weekly boxing program in his hometown.
“Isa na ako doon. May weekly boxing sa amin noon, doon ako na-discover. Yun ang pinaghuhugutan ko dito na pwede rin yun sa basketball,” he added.
After more than a year of preparation, Pacquiao is elated to finally see his brainchild come to life.
The eight-division world champion said that it was not easy to form a new basketball league, but the gratification always come with the opportunities that it has opened up for his countrymen and local government units.
“Matagal ko na ginawa ito. Mahigit isang taon 'yung formula na ginawa namin para mapaganda at ma-involve yung mga mamamayan sa liga na ito,” Pacquiao continued.
The league opened with an initial 10 teams but Pacquiao doesn’t want to stop there.He bared there are a lot of teams which wanted to sign up, but he had to hold off expansion until the next conference.
Though he didn’t name the applicants, Pacquiao foresees the MPBL will have enough teams to form an ‘NBA style’ league where teams will be divided into North and South.
“Maraming gusto pang sumali. Pag dumami 'yan, parang magiging NBA style. Doon may East and West, sa atin naman, South and North,” Pacquiao continued.
The league's framework is similar to the now-defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA), a regional league launched in the nineties with the support and financial muscle of giant TV station ABS-CBN which soon collapsed under the weight of spiraling costs.
Pacquiao was quick to ease worries of his league meeting the same fate, saying the strong involvement of local government units makes the MPBL more sustainable.
“Ang kaibahan dito is involved yung mga LGU. Lugar sa lugar e. Sa MBA, companies yun eh. Ito para siyang NBA style,” Pacquiao said.
“Maganda ito kasi anybody can play. May edad na magaling pa, or yung mga batang nadidiskubre. May mga bata na magagaling, nabibigyan ng chance.”