Record 31 teams gun for Lakandula Cup
An unprecedented cast of 31 teams, including six newcomers, will see action in the third season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League which rolls off Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
League organizers led by chair and founder, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, waited up until late Sunday night for a 32nd team, but Bohol failed to confirm its participation in the Lakandula Cup.
Visayas teams Iloilo and Bacolod, Nueva Ecija, Bicol, Soccsargen and Mindoro were unveiled as expansion teams during the launch of the third season Sunday night at Century Park Hotel in Manila.
Addressing team officials, players and referees at the launch, Pacquiao, who started the MPBL with an initial 10-team cast more than a year ago, vowed the league will be vigilant in fighting game-fixing.
“We want to protect the name of the MPBL,” said Pacquiao in Filipino.
“I don’t want the league to make a fool of the fans. We want competitive games for fans. That’s why I’m warning those who are involved in game-fixing activities that the MPBL will take action.”
Armed with an almost intact lineup led by veterans Macmac Cardona and John Wilson, San Juan will be defending the crown it won at the expense of Davao Occidental last May.
Several teams beefed up their rosters with Davao acquiring former PBA player James Forrester and General Santos signing Filipino-American scoring machine Mikey Williams.
Bataan upgraded its roster by snapping up former Navotas gunner Jai Reyes, while picking up collegiate stars Alvin Pasaol, Anton Asistio, Leonard Santillan and Sean Manganti.
Former PBA player Eliud Poligrates will be making a comeback as he suits up for Cebu, while ex-National U center Matt Aquino joins father, Marlou, and reigning Most Valuable Player Gab Banal at Bacoor.
Former Rain or Shine and NLEX player Jonathan Uyloan takes his act to Basilan, while Alex Nuyles and Ronjay Buenafe will banner expansion team Bicol Volcanoes.