AFTER two long years, the Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) finally went back to action, ushering in a new era in the league on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Not only is this the first time the league resumed its games, but the league officially became a professional league under the supervision of the Games and Amusements Board (GAB). The league likewise opened its doors to the basketball fans, a first since the pandemic denied them of catching live basketball action.
Bounty Agro Ventures, Inc. president Ronald Mascarinas emphasized these milestones in his opening speech.
“Ang aming munting kumpanya ay nagpapasalamat, dahil sa wakas ay makakalaro na rin tayong muli at sa harap ng ating basketball fans,” the philanthropic businessman said. “Kami nila Senador Manny Pacquiao, Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, ay taos pusong nagpapasalamat sa kagalang-galang na mayor ng Pasay City Mayor Calixto Rubiano na pinaunlakan ang kagustuhan ng mga fans ng live basketball action.”
Mascarinas recalled how the two-year wait helped the league rethink its path and how to develop and grow as the “tunay na liga ng bawat Pilipino.”
“Sa tulong ng ating chairman ng GAB Baham Mitra, ang ating liga ngayon ay propesyonal na. Magbibigay ito ng mas maayos na kabuhayan sa ating mga manlalaro at game officials,” he added.
“Pero may kaakibat ito na malaking responsibilidad dahil kayo ngayon ay tumatayong ehemplo ng kabataan upang ipakita ang totoong diwa ng sportsmanship. Play hard but most importantly play fair.”
On the other hand, league founder Manny Pacquiao said that with GAB on their side, they now have an ally in the league’s battle against game-fixing.
“Sa kabila ng ating pinagdadaanan, narito ako sa inyong harapan upang muling buksan ang mahal nating Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League,” said the senator. “Ang pagsasanib pwersa ng Chooks-to-Go at MPBL upang muling buhayin at itaas ang antas ng Philippine basketball. At sa mga susunod na buwan, mag-iikot kami sa mga kapuluan upang mas mailapit sa inyo ang tunay na liga ng bawat Pilipino.
“Bago pa ang lahat, muli akong nagpapaalala na walang lugar o puwang ang game-fixing dito sa liga ng bawat Pilipino. Sa mga nagtatangka na pumasok o pasukan ng game-fixing, huwag niyo kong subukan. Masyadong mataas ang aking respeto sa larong basketball at sa sports. Pahalagahan natin ang laro na nagbibigay saya at kabuhayan sa mas maraming Pilipino.”
Earlier, Aicelle Santos-Sembrano closed the opening production with Katy Perry’s hit Roar, followed by the parade of the participating teams represented by some of its players, its coaching staff, and its team management.
2020 Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Eumir Marcial carried the flag and singer Christelle Adiden led the singing of the Philippine National Anthem.
Also gracing the event is Games and Amusements Board chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra.