The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League will show its brand of play to Canada starting Friday, December 27, (December 28 in Manila) when Zamboanga Family’s Brand Sardines tangles with Imus Bandera at Seven Chiefs Sportsflex in Calgary, Alberta.
Now known as Chooks-to-Go/MPBL Lakan Season, the 31-team league founded by Sen. Manny Pacquiao, will be making its second international foray after a two-game swing in Dubai, UAE, in September.
Apart from the Zamboanga-Imus tussle, Pacquiao will be bringing along a 21-man All-Star team which will be facing local selections from Calgary and Edmonton in the event dubbed as MPBL Canada Invasion.
Majority of the Bandera, including actor Gerald Anderson and former PBA MVP Jayjay Helterbrand, left on Christmas Day in two batches, same with the Zamboanguenos.
MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, Deputy Commissioner Zaldy Realubit and Operations Head Emmer Oreta and some league personnel flew out in separate flights Wednesday.
Duremdes, a PBA all-time great, and Oreta will be playing in the All-Stars which will be split into two teams to be headed by Pacquiao and Cong. Bobby Pacquiao. Realubit will serve as All-Stars coach.
The All-Stars are MPBL Datu Cup MVP Gab Banal of the Bacoor Strikers, Chris Lalata (Bicol Volcanoes), Spencer Eman (Socsargen Marlins), Mark Yee (Davao Occidental Tigers), Michael Juico (Pampanga Giant Lanterns), Val Acuna (Valenzuela Classic), Paulo Hubalde (Valenzuela Classic), Chris Bitoon (Manila Stars), Aris Dionisio (Manila Stars), Jeff Viernes (Batangas Blades), Jhayman Eguilos (Batangas Blades) and Anderson (Imus Bandera).
Others in the roster are MPBL panelists Christian Luanzon, Martin Antonio, and Rodney Santos, co-operations head Satar Macantal, and marketing officer Seth Jamora.
Pacquiao, wife Jinkee and their children will leave for Calgary on Thursday night.
Tagging along are the rest of the MPBL staff, including three referees who will officiate MPBL’s first game in North America.
The Friday (Dec. 27) games in Calgary will be held at Seven Chiefs Sportsplex while Edmonton Expo Centre will host the games on Saturday (Dec. 28).