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    Can Ayonayon play for NLEX in PBA bubble with an active MPBL contract?

    Sep 15, 2020
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño

    IF Mike Ayonayon wants to play for NLEX once the PBA resumes in its proposed bubble, he has to gain clearance from all fronts.

    That's the pulse of Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) commissioner Kenneth Duremdes as the pro league nears its resumption while there's still no light at the end of the tunnel for its regional counterpart.

    "Ang mangyayari ngayon dyan is papayagan ba sila ng PBA team na nag-draft sa kanila na may contract na sila (to still play in the MPBL once it resumes)? Or the other way around, papayagan ba sila ng MPBL team nila na hindi pa tapos yung season, pero magpo-pro muna sila? So yun ang question ngayon sa mga players at sa mga team owners," he said during the online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.

    Ayonayon's situation is unique as the Philippine Christian University product was picked third in the first round by the Road Warriors in the 2019 PBA Rookie Draft.

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    Still, the 6-foot guard has repeatedly insisted that he will honor the decree of MPBL founder Sen. Manny Pacquiao and play out the rest of the current Lakan Cup first before turning pro, with San Juan Knights-Go for Gold seeking back-to-back crowns in the MPBL.

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    Ayonayon was the Finals MVP in the Datu Cup, where San Juan beat Davao Occidental for the crown.

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    The Knights are currently in a stalemate against the Makati Super Crunch in the North Division Finals, with the deciding Game Three of the series still unplayed.

    Allyn Bulanadi is the other draftee still active in the MPBL, suiting up for Basilan Steel-Jumbo Plastic.

    His situation, however, is different as although he was picked by Alaska, he is a special Gilas draftee and is on loan to the national team.

    NorthPort's Renzo Subido, who played for San Juan, and TNT's Kib Montalbo, who represented Makati, have earlier opted out of their teams to focus on their respective PBA careers.

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      Duremdes appreciated the efforts of Ayonayon in heeding Pacquiao's call to finish the season, although he acknowledged that such setup, given the uncertainty brought upon by the global COVID-19 pandemic, may need such flexibility with the resumption of the Lakan Cup still up in the air.

      "Kagaya ng sinasabi natin sa mga players and doon din sa request ni Sen. Manny na itong mga players na pumunta ng PBA are the pride of the MPBL, na nakapag-pro ang mga produkto natin. But then again, sabi nga niya palagi is yung commitment nila, tapusin muna nila," he said.

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      "Pero iba ang situation ngayon kasi nga pandemic and magre-resume na ang PBA at maglalaro na sila."

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        Although Duremdes said that the MPBL won't really intervene in allowing players like Ayonayon to play in the bubble, he also wishes that the same exceptions could be given to them once the remainder of the playoffs are held.

        "Kami naman, di naman tayo talaga kontra dyan sa mga players na gusto nang maglaro. Ang question lang is paano pag nag-resume kami, papayagan kaya sila ng teams na nagdraft sa kanila? Yun ang question sa akin," he said.
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        PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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