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MPBL 2023: What’s New With Pacquiao’s Basketball Product?

March 10, 2023
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We’re almost a quarter into the year. This means MPBL 2023 is almost upon Filipino hoops fans who want to see exciting hoops action!

The popular region-based basketball league started by Manny Pacquiao is returning for its fifth season. It’s poised to become one of the country’s most exciting professional basketball leagues with the features it’s bringing to the professional sports scene. 

With 30 teams under its roster and a renewed partnership with OKBET, it’s cementing its place in Filipino basketball as a great PBA alternative.

This piece will focus on the professional basketball league’s renewed partnership with the country’s leading sportsbook and the teams participating. We’ll also look at the league’s first games of the season.

MPBL Rehashes Partnership with OKBET

The 2022 MPBL season saw a successful partnership between the professional basketball league and the country’s leading sports betting provider. It made sense for the parties involved to continue their relationship into the coming season.

According to Manila Bulletin, Pacquiao announced that he was happy to retain the league’s association with OKBET due to its dedication to improving the local basketball scene.

“I am looking forward to continue working with OKBET, which is one of our trusted partners in championing sports development and the welfare of our Filipino athletes,” the former Senator said during the online betting platform’s Together We Rise event at Hilton Manila Hotel on February 16, 2023.

The former eight-division world champion emphasized the online betting brand’s willingness to support the league and hopes OKBET will become a reliable partner for its efforts to push professional basketball back to its pre-pandemic performance.

The Play It Forward initiative is one of the ways OKBET aims to bolster the level of basketball in the country. The grassroots program will have the league’s best players and coaches host free basketball clinics nationwide to improve local play. This improvement should produce talented players that teams could use to bolster their ranks.

okbet mpbl 2023

An Expanded Playing Field for MPBL 2023

One of the biggest draws for the latest MPBL season is the number of teams participating in the tournament. Thirty teams will be duking it out for the crown, so the competition for the league summit will be more challenging than ever.

Two new teams that will be joining the league are Quezon Province Huskers and Negros Muscovados. The league’s latest expansion teams will join the North and South divisions to turn MPBL 2023 into a 29-game season. This is the league’s biggest-ever season, as 2022 only saw 22 teams compete.

There was also plenty of roster shuffling that happened in this period. The most notable absences from the league are Hesed Gabo and Kyt Jimenez. 

Gabo made the big time after joining the NLEX Road Warriors on a one-year deal. The former Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguard played great basketball throughout the previous MPBL season, so it’s reasonable that he left for greener pastures.

Kyt Jimenez is another notable absence from the MPBL’s 2023 campaign. The social media personality who shook the league with his electrifying play for Saranggani Marlins decided to bring his talents to the Davao Occidental Tigers of the Pilipinas Super League.

Fortunately, the league also received an influx of talent to boost the quality of play. NCAA MVP Will Gozum is the biggest name out of the influx of players entering the league. The league’s special permit for student-athletes allows them to play for any team without killing off their eligibility to their collegiate teams.

Aside from rookies, plenty of the players that shone in the 2022 season also changed teams. One of the most noteworthy players who made moves over the season was Enzo Joson, the previous top scorer for the Marikina Shoemasters.

Introducing the Makati OKBET Kings

One of the best things about MPBL 2023 is the number of teams fans can support. If you’re interested in finding a team to support, try the Makati OKBET Kings.

The Kings have been a part of the MPBL since 2018. They started life at the MPBL well with a first-round exit in the Datu Cup. They followed it up with a solid division finals exit against San Juan the following season.

However, the subsequent campaigns saw Makati fall out of contention. They didn’t qualify for the postseason of the 2022 Invitational and Mumbaki Cups. Last season saw them fall off as they finished with a 2-19 season record.

Now with OKBET as their primary sponsor, they hope to put together a more robust roster that will allow them to make a postseason run. Carlou Jay Lloren and Warren Calara will be among the players expected to carry the Kings to a deep playoff berth.

MPBL 2023 Favorites and Underdogs

While the MPBL has one of the largest team pools in the Filipino pro sports scene, the favorites to win the 2023 title are still the established giants.

As the defending 2022 champions, Nueva Ecija will be one of the biggest favorites to win. Their strong showing last season, compounded by the fact that they kept most of the core players to help them win, should provide them enough momentum to start strongly.

Zamboanga is also a huge favorite to finish the job they couldn’t secure last time. Their outstanding showings in the Preseason Cup should give their fans plenty of hope ahead of the season.

The Saranggani Marlins is another strong team that will cause problems for the rest of the MPBL playing field. While they lost Jimenez, the squad still has a strong roster that can compete with the rest of the playing field.

Previous MBPL winners San Juan and Batangas City are also poised to fight for playoff spots in their respective divisions. The league also features strong General Santos, Bacolod, and Pampanga squads.

Meanwhile, newcomers Quezon Province and Negros will be among the league’s smaller teams. Laguna, Muntinlupa, and Manila are among the other teams that need to make a big jump to fare better this season.

MPBL 2023 Season Starts in Quezon

The MPBL 2023 campaign will start on March 11 at Quezon Convention Center, the home of one of its newest teams.

MPBL games feature two games to encourage attendance among local fans, with the host team playing the second game. The first game after the opening ceremonies will be between Bataan and Rizal, two teams that have already played in the league for some time.

The first opponent for the Quezon City Huskers will be fellow MPBL neophytes Negros Muscovados. The home crowd will hope their home team manages to start the season on the right foot and eventually start an improbable run to the MPBL title.

OKBET: Partners in Responsible Gambling

Pacquiao’s praise for OKBET was mainly focused on the online betting platform’s commitment to helping MPBL 2023 become an outstanding success. However, the former senator also praised the platform’s focus on promoting healthy gambling habits among the Filipino public.

In his speech, Pacquiao commended OKBET for their dedication to promoting responsible gambling habits among its player base. He believes that OKBET’s presence is beneficial in creating and sustaining a healthy gambling culture in the country.

As committed partners to responsible gambling, OKBET would like to remind its player base and the rest of the Filipino gambling public of the following:

  • Never resort to gambling when your emotions are high.
  • Stick to your bankroll and only deposit what your disposable income allows.
  • Incorporate strategies into your betting to maximize your winnings.
  • Only play with an accredited and trusted online betting platform.

Get Ready for MPBL 2023!

If you’re itching to see exciting basketball featuring some of your hometown’s best basketball talents, MPBL 2023 is the perfect sports league to watch. 

It vows to bring professional basketball to the provinces, which they have done exceptionally well. There’s plenty of reason to believe that they’ll be able to pull it off once again this year.

Read more: Ja Morant: Gun Fiasco Could Cost Him 50 NBA Games

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