Pacquiao firm on MPBL cap on Fil-foreigners: 'Nasasapawan kasi mga Pilipino'
MPBL owner Manny Pacquiao says he has no plan to lift the rule limiting the 26 league teams to one Fil-foreigner standing no taller than 6-4. Marlo Cueto

MANNY Pacquiao remained firm on the ‘one-Fil-Foreigner-per team’ rule in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), saying he doesn't want to put Filipinos at a disadvantage.

Talking to reporters after the opener of the Anta Datu Cup, Pacquiao said that he has no plans of lifting the cap or  allowing teams to hire imports despite the backlash over a 'discriminatory' rule.

The eight-division world boxing champion even used the PBA as an example, saying the glory days of Asia's first professional basketball league came before the influx of Fil-Foreigners in the league.  

“Wala muna. Nasasapawan kasi mga Pilipino. Dati, malakas PBA nung puro Pilipino. Humina nung maraming import,” Pacquiao said.

“Ang maganda rito, connected siya sa LGU… maraming nakapaglaro. Actually, nagkaubusan nga ng players dahil sa MPBL. Maganda itong MPBL. Maraming mabibigyan ng chance makita yung galing ng Pilipino,” he added.

Aside from the opportunity given to homegrown Filipinos, Pacquiao said that rule limiting teams to one Fil-foreign player no taller than 6-foot-4 is also safeguards the balance of the regional league.

“Balanced naman 'yan. Istrikto tayo na magpa-ano ng players. (Kaya) bawal 'yung Fil-Am over 6’4 at isa lang bawat team,” he added.

All controversies aside, Pacquiao’s league has grown by leaps and bounds since its launch in January. From 10 teams, the league expanded to 26 in just six months and Pacquiao said fans can expect the field to rise to 30.

"May mga sasali pa nga dapat, pero late na sila e, apat yung gusto pang sumali,” Pacquiao said. “Open pa rin naman kami sa expansion. Ang limit ko lang naman, pwede pa siyang mga anim na team."

Follow the writer on Twitter: @CAJacinto11