Pacquiao opens MPBL Invitational, vows to keep league game-fixing free
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirant Sen. Manny Pacquiao formally opened Saturday the much-awaited Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Invitational Tournament to the delight of basketball fans who trooped to the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
In his speech, Pacquiao thanked those who kept the faith and continued to support the league despite the challenges posed by the pandemic in the past two years.
“Hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala na makalipas ang dalawang taon at sa kabila ng ating mabigat na pinagdaanan ay nandito ako sa inyong harapan upang muling buksan ang mahal nating Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League powered by TM,” Pacquiao said.
He, however, warned some unscrupulous individuals and groups who might want to tarnish the integrity of the league through their nefarious activities like game-fixing.
“Ngunit bago pa man ang lahat ay muli akong nagpapaalala — walang lugar ang game-fixing sa laro na pinakamamahal natin,” the fighting senator warned.
“Sa mga nagtatangka, huwag niyo akong subukan. Masyadong mataas ang aking respeto sa larong basketball at sa sports. Pahalagahan natin ang laro na nagbibigay saya at kabuhayan sa marami nating kababayan,” he continued.
A total of 22 teams divided into four groups will compete in the MPBL which has been granted pro status by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) on Thursday.
Only the top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout playoffs of the tournament slated until December 23, which offers a hefty grand prize of P2,000,000 for the champion.
This will be MPBL’s return to action under a closed-circuit setup since finishing the pandemic-delayed Lakan Season last March in Subic in a full-bubble setting.
Pacquiao also thanked Games and Amusement Board Chairman Abraham ‘Baham’ Mitra, Chooks-to-Go top man Ronald Mascarinas and MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes for supporting his dream of raising the level of the sport and giving chance to local hoopsters to showcase their talents through the league.
“Ang pagsasanib puwersa ng Chooks-to-Go at ng MPBL ay isang malaking hakbang upang muling buhayin at itaas ang antas ng Philippine basketball. At sa mga susunod na buwan ay muli kaming iikot sa buong kapuluan para ipagpatuloy na mas mapalapit sa inyo ang tunay na liga ng bawat Pilipino,” he continued.
To recall, Chooks-to-Go has been tasked by MPBL founder Sen. Pacquiao to handle the league’s basketball operations moving forward last October.
The opening had a loaded quintuple-header for its awaited Invitational Tournament.
Games started feature Iloilo United Royals and Negros Muscovados followed by a collision between former champion San Juan Go For Gold AICC and Val City-MJAS Zenith.
All-Star Bacolod Ballers and Bacoor City Strikers then follow suit at 4 p.m. in their own duel before the clashes of Bulacan Kuyas-Imus Bandera at 6:30 p.m. and Bicol Volcanoes-Jumbo Plastic Basilan at 9 p.m.
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