Eight-division world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has plans to bring MPBL to a worldwide audience and it may start with teams from the United Arab Emirates. Pacquiao shared his vision for the pro league during a recent visit by GAB chairman Atty. Richard Clarin to attend a 'Blow By Blow' show at the Lagao Gym in General Santos City.

Pacquiao said MPBL continues to grow and its fifth season will begin in Lucena on Saturday with 30 teams. With the pandemic at an ebb, Pacquiao said teams that took a leave of absence previously will forfeit their franchise fees if they aren't reactivated. Quezon will make its MPBL debut this season and Negros Occidental is joining the fray after seeing action in the 2021 Invitationals. Bicol, Bulacan, Iloilo, Panay, Cebu and Parañaque are back in the fold.

Pacquiao said he's still mulling the ideal format for an international MPBL but an option would be to line up at least five Filipino players for every overseas team. In a preview of the coming campaign, MPBL held an eight-team preseason tournament two weeks ago to coincide with the staging of the Kalilangan Festival to celebrate the founding of General Santos City. Zamboanga beat Nueva Ecija, 88-80, for the championship and the first prize of P3 million. Nueva Ecija took the runner-up prize of P500,000. Pacquiao saw action for guest team Bulalakaw and hit 35 points in a 72-70 win over Batangas City. Pacquiao, still a hardcourt threat at 44, scored 11 points, including two triples, in the last quarter to lift Bulalakaw to an improbable victory from a 25-point deficit.


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