Pacquiao launches league fund to help sick athletes, coaches

THERE’S more to the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) than just exciting games.

In a commendable cause, the league, owned by world boxing legend Manny Pacquiao, has launched the MPBL Kalinga aimed at providing help for all its former and current players in need of medical assistance.

The MPBL Kalinga, in just the first day of its noble mission, already had one beneficiary of necessary medical aid in Patrick Cabahug, a former player for Valenzuela and Cebu, due to his Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare immune disorder.

The MPBL Kalinga will also include coaches, staff, officials, utility and all other personalities under the league in the middle of its fifth season featuring cities and provinces around the country playing a distinct home-and-away format.

Even homegrown athletes down to the barangay levels may reach out to the league for needed aid as the MPBL puts a premium on its social responsibility beyond basketball with the “Kalinga” program.

The funding for the noble cause will come from the potential fines and penalties on any infractions the current players and coaches may commit.

The MPBL Kalinga is just one of Mr. Pacquiao’s new projects for the MPBL, which has a bevy of programs and initiatives in the works next season including a possible expansion from 29 teams.

But that can wait as Mr. Pacquiao beams with excitement to crown the new MPBL champion among the four teams left standing — Pampanga and San Juan from the North, and Bacoor and Batangas from the South.

The division finals, in a best-of-three format, fires off this weekend at the home turfs of North’s No. 1 seed Pampanga and South’s top-ranked Bacoor against the visitors, with the winners arranging a date in the national finals. — John Bryan Ulanday

Neil Banzuelo

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