Saturday, November 10, 2012

70 teams mark 30th Anniversary of MMBL

The Metro Manila Basketball League turns thirty this year, and will celebrate its anniversary with a kickoff of its tournament on November 10 at the Ynares Center in Pasig.

Now known as the Seaoil Metro Manila Basketball League (MMBL) thanks to its tie-up with the Filipino independent petroleum firm, it is one of the longest running high school basketball tournaments in the country.

Formed by the legendary coach Ato Badolato of San Beda HS, the MMBL served as a means for high school basketball players to play on after their own respective league conclude in October, like the NCAA or the UAAP. Some of the players that have played in this league include current San Beda College assistant coach Benjie Paras, UAAP basketball analyst Kirk Long and current collegiate standouts Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas.

From the original seven, eight or nine teams that heralded the league in its early years, the MMBL has now grown into a massive collection of schools, with 70 teams overall. 62 of those 70 are entered for the boys, with the competitive field spread out into four divisions. They also have eight schools for the newly-created girls division.

The divisional concept had been developed after schools backed out when they learn that powerhouse schools like San Beda, Ateneo or La Salle were participating. It also served as a opportunity for players from lesser known-schools to be seen by coaches and recruiters for the different collegiate leagues.

Kirk credits participating in the league as to how Norman Black discovered him back when he was still playing for Faith Academy. His father, Jeff, served as Faith Academy's athletic director and brought him around the games, where he had seen Yancy and Ranidel de Ocampo dominate back then as standouts for St. Francis of Assisi. The MMBL also is where the newly-minted TNT head coach discovered then-Chiang Kai Shek standout Justin Chua. The big man not long after became part of all five UAAP title teams under Black's regime.

Kiefer and Kevin both noted the importance of the MMBL in improving their games, noting that the league serves as a "stepping stone" to the next level and an opportunity to step up for those who normally would not receive the necessary playing time with their mother league/s.

For its 30th anniversary, the MMBL has tied up with the National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) to serve as the NCR wing for the NBTC National High School Championships, a.k.a. the Elite League. The top three teams in Division I as well as the champion of Division II get the slots allotted to Metro Manila in the competition, which also has slots for teams in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The kick-off will be at Ynares Arena in Pasig, but games will also be played at other venues, like the PhilSports Arena, St. Placid's Gym in San Beda and St. Stephen's High School.

Participating high schools include Adamson University, Chiang Kai Shek College, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, De La Salle Zobel, Far Eastern University-FERN, Our Lady of Fatima University, San Beda College, University of Santo Tomas, Arellano University, Faith Academy, National University, UNO High School, College of San Benildo Rizal, Escuela de Sofia of Caloocan, Southridge School, St. Jude Catholic School, Trinity University of Asia, Gymnazo Christian School, La Consolacion College Manila, Dominican College Sta. Rosa, Espiritu Santo Catholic School, San Beda College Alabang, St. Stephen’s High School, Casimiro Ynares Memorial School, Hope Academy, Ateneo de Manila University, Hope Christian High School, Malayan Institute of Technology, University of the Philippines Integrated School, Xavier School, Emilio Aguinaldo College, International School Manila, Kings Montessori School, Australian International School, Armanda College, Colegio San Agustin Biñan, Lourdes School of Mandaluyong, St. Andrew’s School, La Salle College Antipolo, Our Lady’s Angels School, Quezon City Science High School, St. James Academy, and The Seed Montessori School.

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