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MPBL still keen on finishing season after initial veto

MPBL remains kin on finishing its third season. MPBL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The MPBL has been eyeing to finally put an end to its postponed Lakan Season playoffs inside a bubble in Subic Bay.

As it turned out, though, the league has been very persistent about it.

A letter dated Dec. 11, 2020 sent to MPBL official Vicente Topacio, a copy of which was obtained by Dugout Philippines on Wednesday night, bared that the Games and Amusments Board, Philippine Sports Commission, and Department of Health initially vetoed the league's request to hold the remainder of playoffs in the Metro Olongapo area.

"Under Section 5, General Guidelines of the said JAO (joint administrative order), non-professional contact sports and activities and non-professional sporting events are temporarily suspended. Only sporting events and competitions conducted by professional sports leagues and associations under the jurisdiction of GAB are permitted to resume in low-risk areas," the letter read.

The regional league, a brainchild of eight-division world champion and former PBA first round pick Manny Pacquiao, has opted to keep its "amateur" status unlike its counterpart NBL, which officially turned pro last August.

Both the PSC and GAB put a closure on which is to be considered amateur and professional by defining that athletes who are merely playing for pay are considered pros, effectively implying that the MPBL should be a pro league.

GAB is overseeing the operations of professional sports events.

Following a meeting on Jan. 23, the senator assured that the MPBL will continue on, baring that it went straight to the Inter-Agency Task Force in submitting its COVID-19 protocols for its playoff bubble.

[Related Story: MPBL eyeing Subic bubble to finish playoffs]

The move is similar to that of the PSL, which is eyeing a beach volleyball tournament also in Subic Bay.

The IATF approved the PSL bubble, but it was postponed to early this year due to the string of storms that hit Luzon last November.

Like the MPBL, the PSL also opted to stay amateur unlike its rival PVL, which turned pro too.

The MPBL is hoping that the IATF will approve its bubble format this month in time for a possible March restart.

However, a person privy of the situation told Dugout Philippines that Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, who represents DOH in JAO group, only got to sign the letter, which also has GAB chairman Baham Mitra and PSC chairman Butch Ramirez as signatories, on Wednesday.

This means the effectivity of the letter would just begin on Wednesday, which could put the MPBL bubble in peril.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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