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The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) brass remains positive that it could open the fourth season on June 12, coinciding with the celebration of the Philippine Independence Day, according to a report by GMA News.

But league commissioner Kenneth Duremdes understands that the chances of launching the season on the historic day gets slimmer by the day as the semi-professional fixture has yet to secure the approval from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to allow teams to hold practices amid the pandemic.

“There’s still hope for the league to open on June 12 but in my own opinion, we may not be able to make it to the June 12 opening since the teams have yet to start their training and some teams do not have complete lineups yet,” said Duremdes in an interview on Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) forum on Tuesday.

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“And based on our experience last year during the (2020 Lakan Cup) championship, it took three months before the IATF issued us a clearance.”

Duremdes said they are now in talks with the task force in order to first lay the groundwork for the team's training in their respective local government units (LGUs), which could spearhead the formal start of the tournament.

The former PBA star added that as of now, there are already 19 teams who are assured to see action this year with more clubs expected to send their letter of intent to join in the coming days.

“The initial talks with the IATF is just to begin with the training. However, some LGU facilities are being used as either vaccination or quarantine areas,” he said.

“These are the challenges that we are facing right now. It’s beyond our control and we just hope that this pandemic ends so we can return to normal.”

If not June 12, meanwhile, the earliest the league has penciled its opening for is sometime in July or August while Duremdes shared that they are still eyeing Subic as their possible venue.

MPBL resumed its virus-hit 2020 Lakan Cup championship at the Subic Bay Gymnasium last March and for Duremdes, it’s ideal for the city to again host their season being a secure and safe environment for all stakeholders.

“It’s hard to write down a schedule since every 14 days, our situation changes. So right now, we’re observing everything on a day-to-day basis.”


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