Stage set for Liga Pilipinas

THE stage is set for the Liga Pilipinas, a newly-formed regional basketball tournament that starts with a weekend bash on May 23 to 25 in three key cities of Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

The league, which aims to develop talents in different regions, will be made up of 16 teams representing North and South. There will be two conferences of four months each per season.

Former PBA commissioner Noli Eala is at the helm of the new league, which allows each competing team to sign up 14 players but only 12 to play. Each team is allowed eight home-grown talents, two ex-pros and a Fil-foreigner.

“There’s still a lot of talent in the regions,” Eala said in yesterday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s UN Ave.

Competing from the North are Ilocos Sur, Baguio, Pampanga, Taguig, Cavite, Batangas, Laguna and Rizal. Representing the South are Cebu, Mandaue, Bacolod, Iloilo from Visayas, and Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga, Davao and Ozamis from Mindanao.

Eala said other teams are knocking on the league’s door, but added the expansion should come in a couple of years.

Games will be played in 16 different venues throughout the season.

Eala said the league will rely mainly on community support, and will involve different local government units and corporate sponsors.

The idea may have been pattered after the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association, a regional league that lasted four years after being formed and launched in 1998.

“I think the MBA became too eager to compete with the PBA. That will never happen with Liga Pilipinas because how can you even compare yourself with a 33-year-old league?” Eala said in the forum sponsoredby Shakey’s, Pagcor, Accel, Brickroad gym and Aspen spa.

“We will not fall into that. We are all students of history here,” added Eala .

Liga Pilipinas is owned by Pinoy Basketbol, Inc., the newest member of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas. PBI is a merger of stakeholders National Basketball Conference, Mindanao-Visayas Basketball Association and Third Force, Inc.

The PBI board is led by Tac Padilla (chairman) and Gov. Oscar Moreno (vice chairman).

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