|Iloilo is joining the two Negros Occidental-based teams in one MPBL Invitational group. MPBL (file photo)|
PASIG--The intense Western Visayas sports rivalry between Iloilo and Negros Occidental will be spiling into the MPBL this Christmas season as all the three teams representing the said region will be part of a single group in the league's season-opening invitational tournament following the group draw on Friday night at the Crowne Plaza Grand Ballroom here.
Returning teams Iloilo United Royals and Bacolod All-Star Ballers and newcomer Negros Muscovados have all been drawn to Group A to be joined by Luzon-based clubs Bacoor City Strikers, Pasig Realtors, and the Caloocan team now known as the Excellence.
The other six-team group, Group D, will have Manila, Rizal, Imus, GenSan, Mindoro, and Bulacan in it.
As part of their "perks" for topping the previous Chooks-to-Go sponsored events, Basilan and San Juan have been seeded to the two five-team groups.
The Peace Riders, the inaugural Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup champions, will headline Group B, which also has the Laguna Heroes, Marikina Shoemasters, Bicol Volcanoes, and the newly-renamed Makati Blazers in it.
On the other hand, the Knights, the runners-up from last season but got the bonus with eventual champions Davao Occidental Tigers not joining, are seeded to Group C, which also has the Valenzuela Classic, Sarangani Marlins, Muntinlupa Cagers, and the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, who made headlines over the midweek after unretiring former Magnolia Hotshots Marc Pingris and PJ Simon.
The teams will play a single round-robin group stage phase among their groups.
The top two teams per group will qualify for the knockout stages, where all the games from the quarterfinals until the championship round will be do-or-die matches.
Meanwhile, Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascarinas upped the ante in the MPBL Invitational happening from Dec. 11-23.
He announced during the group draw that the champion of the said tournament will receive PHP2 million.
The other finalist will take home PHP500,000, while the third-placer will win PHP250,000.
He also confirmed that the event will happen at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Games and Amusements Board official Rodil Manaog first announced the development during the agency's monthly press conference earlier Friday.
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