THE MPBL is set to resume play with a pocket tournament next month that will see a number of welcome rule changes including the scrapping of the controversial limit on the number of Fil-foreign players per team, at least for the time being.
The league swung its door open to Fil-foreigners, scrapping the 6-foot-5 height limit as well as the restrictions on the number of mixed-race, ex-professionals, and homegrown players in the lineups of teams.
The changes will be implemented in the MPBL Invitationals set to be staged from December 11 to 21 either at the Caloocan Sports Complex, Ynares Center in Antipolo, or the Sta. Rosa Sports Complex in Laguna.
Launched in 2017 by Senator Manny Pacquiao, the regional league set a limit of only one Fil-foreign player per team - a rule branded as 'racist and discriminatory' by critics - as well as a height ceiling of 6-foot-4.
In 2018, Mandaluyong was forced to pick who between Ray Parks and Lawrence Domingo would play for the team during the season. Parks was considered a Fil-foreigner despite being born in the Philippines.
Now, teams can field an unlimited number of Fil-foreigners, at least for the invitational tournament, as the league temporarily suspended the one-per-team policy, according to a source.
The MPBL will also be turning professional and secure accreditation from Fiba.
Recently, the PBA also made changes to its rules to allow as much as seven Fil-foreign players per team instead of five starting in the 2022 season.
In addition, Fil-foreigners will only be required to present a valid Philippine passport to be eligible for the rookie draft.
A total of 13 teams so far have signed up for the MPBL pocket tournament, led by reigning champion Davao Occidental Tigers.
Nueva Ecija Vanguards, Makati Super Crunch, Gensan Warriors, Caloocan Supremos, Sarangani Marlins, Rizal Golden Coolers-Xentro Mall, Marikina Shoemasters, Laguna Heroes, Bicol Volcanoes, Imus Bandera, Negros Muscavados, and a Bacolod team have also confirmed their participation.
Chooks-to-Go will be handling the operations of the league.