FORMER PBA chairman Mikee Romero admitted the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) has stolen some of the PBA’s thunder, so much so that he considers the emerging league as a “real threat” to the pro league.
Romero, the NorthPort team owner who served as league chairman last season, has seen the following of the MPBL grow since Senator Manny Pacuiao created the new the avenue for aspirants last year.
“The time na nandun ako sa PBA (as chairman), we were – and up to now – threatened by the MPBL,” Romero told SPIN.ph on Tuesday. “So I think that’s the thing that this current board should approach, because yung MPBL, for me, is a real threat.”
“Kasi you have the same viewership eh,” he added. “Kunyari, kung taga-Pasig ka, ang pinapanood mo yung Pasig team mo kesa sa PBA, so ‘di ba?”
“If the viewer is watching MPBL over PBA, then we have a big problem,” continued the Party List congressman who represents the 1-Pacman Party List, which Pacquiao endorsed.
If he had his way, Romero would further push the league to hold games out of town – more than what it’s already doing by bringing games to the provinces usually once a weekend.
“If I was given one more year, gagawin ko yung the PBA should go to the provinces, go around, lahat ng games ikot natin,” the 46-year-old businessman said. “Alam ko mahal ang production, but they should do it.”
“Kaya dumami din yung provincial, because I encouraged it,” he added. “Kailangan damihan yan. Hindi pwedeng isa, dalawa kada conference.”
Romero feels that Metro Manila is already saturated with basketball – and that should prompt the PBA to look elsewhere to promote its brand.
“Ang daming basketball sa Metro Manila eh – may UAAP, may NCAA, may MPBL, may PBA, may D-League; sawang-sawa na ang tao sa basketball dito,” the La Salle alumnus admitted. “Ngayon, dalhin mo ang PBA sa Zamboanga, edi magwawala ang mga tao. Kailangan the PBA, parang MBA yan, kailangan you reach out, reach out more sa fans.”
“Eh mas marami pang nanonood sa NCAA tsaka UAAP; Pinagkakaguluhan,” he added. “Nawawala yung value of being a professional league.”
“Pangalawa, yung mga fans, nagiging detached na sa PBA, kasi yung mga UAAP, NCAA players na ang nagiging idol eh. Pero pag akyat ng PBA ngayon, ‘may mga pera na yan,’” he continued.
Asked if the PBA can handle the logistical demands that an increase in road games will demand, Romero is pushing the league to do it.
“They should. Kailangan,” he said. “Pag hindi ginawa ng PBA yan, dwindling yung viewership.”
At least Romero, who is part owner and vice chairman of AirAsia Philippines, is willing to help through his carrier.
“Oo,” he said when asked if AirAsia can help the PBA. “Naniniwala kasi ako na sawang-sawa na sa basketball ang taga-Metro Manila.”
Romero, though, feels it won’t get to a point where the MPBL will take over the PBA, although he acknowledged that there are some traits of the MPBL that the PBA can emulate.
“Hindi naman, not match, pero it steals some viewership and it should not be taken lightly,” Romero said. “Kung ako yung PBA, why are they (MPBL) a little successful? Although nakikita ko na maliit lang mga venue. Maybe kopyahin natin kung ano yung karapat-dapat ma-kopya.”
“The PBA has to reach out,” he added. “They have to go out of their natural self, yung comfort zones nila – hindi na yung Araneta o MOA ang bahay. Marami ka ng dapat gawing bahay.”
“Yun ang gusto ko – kung ako lang ang (masusunod),” he concluded.