Basketball fans in the Philippines are long used to the country’s PBA pro-ball system of teams being organized and sponsored by corporations, and playing their games mostly in and around Metro Manila. They first got a taste of NBA-style home-court-based basketball league play when ABS-CBN founded the MBA, which ran 1998-2002. Another attempt to tie teams across the Philippines came in 2017 via Manny Pacquiao’s semi-pro MPBL, which had teams that were either locally-based or a fusion of that plus corporate sponsorship. Following a successful inaugural season, its second season started last June, with impressive performances lately from Vis-Min teams like the GoldenState GenSan Warriors.

The Philippine Star has it that the MPBL team for General Santos City, sponsored by Golden State College which gives it a delightfully similar-sounding name to an NBA club, has been performing determinedly in its most recent games for the second season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League. Their latest triumph came just this Tuesday, September 18 at the Jose Rizal University Gymnasium in Mandaluyong, home to the Mandaluyong El Tigre. The Warriors’ opponents however were the Bulacan Kuyas – Mighty Sports, which the GenSan squad shocked with a 56-43 win, following a slow beginning.

For game 1 of the day’s MPBL slate, the GenSan Warriors found themselves floundering during the first half of play, to the point that by halftime they were held to only 12 points against the Kuyas, an appalling all-time low score for the league. The Generals’ team was not going to take that lying down however, and with ex-pro Marlon Basco (C) alongside Delmar Mahaling (PF) taking the game’s lead, they soon not only caught up and then surpassed the Bulacan Squad but effectively shut down their scoring capabilities. In the fourth quarter alone the Kuyas managed only 7 points.

This upset win by GenSan that knocked Bulacan in its standings to 6W-3L was also notable for its low point production from both teams combined, only 109 and the worst recorded in the MPBL yet. But it also demonstrated that the theme of the night was Vis-Min squads showing up well-placed Luzon counterparts. Game 2 featured the Basilan Steel taking on their Mandaluyong hosts, which saw the El Tigre – Dataland team being humbled 70-68 despite efforts by Bobby Ray Parks Jr.; MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes described the back-to-back games as “A day of upsets and a showcase for Mindanao teams”.

For its second season tournament Datu Cup, the MPBL is fielding 26 teams, 16 being added to the inaugural 10-team lineup. It is the first season by the league with a fully national scope. The GoldenState GenSan Warriors was originally formed in 2006 and played in various regional leagues before joining the expansion in 2018. ABS-CBN broadcasts the MPBL games.

Image courtesy of MSN

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