MPBL takes pride in parity after 2022 finalists gone ahead of 2023 division finals

MPBL league officials believe parity has been the key so far this season leading to its unpredictability. MPBL (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

BATANGAS CITY—A new MPBL champion will be crowned this year after not just the defending champion but also the runner-up from last season have been knocked out of contention after the division semifinals.

If there is one meaning to that according to league coordinator Joe Ramos, it could be that the MPBL has maintained a certain balance in terms of the competition five seasons in.

"I think that's the strength of the MPBL. Wala pang nagcha-champion na dalawa, so it kind of gives credit to the league," Ramos said on Tuesday night during a media availability with league founder Manny Pacquiao and commissioner Kenneth Duremdes at the Batangas City Sports Coliseum. "I think yung parity natin, that's important. Yun yung strength that we rely on."

With Nueva Ecija already eliminated, only San Juan and Batangas City have a chance to become the first-ever MPBL franchise to win it all multiple times.

However, up next for them are the division top seeds, Pampanga and Bacoor City, respectively, in the national semifinals which begin this weekend.

Many tout the Giant Lanterns as the heavy favorites now to clinch the championship, but Pacquiao believes that the Knights, Embassy Chill, and the Strikers can still give them a fight.

"Hindi mo masisigurado dahil yung Pampanga, tinalo ng Batangas sa eliminations. Iba yung playoffs kasi, so ang bola ay bilog. Hindi mo ma-predict kung sino yung talagang mananalo," the future boxing Hall of Famer said.

The Giant Lanterns actually lost twice this season as they too suffered a tough loss to the Makati Kings.

However, Makati, which entered the playoffs as the third seed in the North, was swept by sixth-seeded San Juan in the first round. 

The Knights then dethroned the erstwhile national champions Rice Vanguards, seeded second, in the North semis, which was also a payback for San Juan after they lost to Nueva Ecija in last year's North Finals. 

San Juan and Pampanga open their best-of-three North Division Finals on Saturday night at the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center in San Fernando City.

Batangas City and Bacoor City follow suit in Game 1 of the South Division Finals on Monday night at the Bacoor City STRIKE Gymnasium.

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