Hundreds of jobs, cage careers hang as MPBL cancels season
Former PBA players Paulo Hubalde and Jai Reyes were both looking forward to a fresh start for their teams in the fourth season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) supposedly slated to start this month.
But that would have to wait for another year as the league canceled its 2020-2021 season due to health restrictions brought by the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the uncertainty surrounding the franchise renewal of its television partner, ABS-CBN.
MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, however, announced that the remaining games of the Lakan Season will be played under a controlled setup as soon as the government allows contact sports to be played. San Juan, Makati, Basilan and Davao Occidental are all in contention for the Lakan Season crown.
But the target date of the league’s next season has now been set for June 12, 2021.
“To make matters worse, ABS-CBN Sports and Action was shut down and contact sports are still not allowed despite the country’s transition to GCQ (general community quarantine),” Duremdes said in a memorandum sent to teams on Monday night. “The 2020-2021 MPBL season is hereby suspended and we will start the next season on June 12, 2021.”
Duremdes said the league is planning to hold protracted preseason tournaments as soon as restrictions are lifted.
Sources said several teams grappled with the dilemma of resuming play without a vaccine yet for COVID-19. And that’s even with strict health measures in place.
“It was tough to decide to restart the season without the vaccine as a worst-case scenario may take a toll on the teams and the league,” the source said.
Duremdes said teams are advised to pay 20 percent of the salaries of players with live contracts for the fourth season.
“It’s sad because a lot of players rely on the league for their livelihood,” said Hubalde, who has been with Valenzuela since the first season of the league in 2018.
“And some of these players are not yet established and are just starting out with their careers. This is a big setback for a lot of us.”
“I understand the part of the owners and the LGU (local government unit) partners because we have bigger problems right now,” Hubalde said.
“It’s just sad because we have 31 teams and all these players won’t have work for a year. But as we know, the priority is just to survive at all cost.” INQ
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