A total of 26 teams — 10 founding members and 16 expansion squads — will comprise this season’s Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, which will come off the wraps on June at the Araneta Coliseum.
Teams will have at least 25 games each in a season that could stretch as far as 11 months. These squads are divided into two groups namely the North and South and MPBL operations head Zaldy Realubit, a former PBA player, told FOX Sports Philippines how they came up with the groupings.
“Ang ginawa ko, nag-compose ako, tapos ibinigay ko kay Senator (Manny Pacquiao), tapos may binago lang siya. Ang inilagay ko pa nga nung una dyan Davao City, kasi nung time na yun, wala pa si Bacoor,” said Realubit.
According to Realubit, the groupings wasn’t exactly established geographically, knowing that teams from the south are least than the north.
“Hindi siya geographically, kasi lima lang yung spouth kaya kailangan natin malagyan (ng teams) yung kabila para ma-balance,” added Realubit.
Initially, MPBL officials thought of grouping Batangas City, the inaugural staging champion, along with the other powerhouse squads, but instead, they decided to balance things out.
“Mayroong ganung initial na thinking, na i-grupo natin siya sa malalakas na team dahil nga siya yung champion. Kaso lang, baka hindi rin maganda kakalabasan kung ang isang grupo, mahina,” added Realubit. “So pagdating ng national finals, alam mo na kung sino ang lamang. Kaya ginawa natin binalanse natin siya.”
“Sa tingin ko at tingin ni Senator, yun ang balance. Parang nasa north and south na siya.”
These 26 teams will play in a single round robin but will be grouped and by the end of the elimination round, the top eight teams from each group will advance to the playoffs.
The No.1 team of each group will face the No. 8 squad from the same group in a bets-of-three series. Teams No. 2 will face No.7, No.3 will battle No. 6 and No.4 meets No.5, from their own groups, all via the best-of-three format.
Semis will still be a best-of-three while the division finals will also be a best-of-three. The National Championship where champions of the north and the south will meet, will be a best-of-five affair