Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes is keeping his fingers crossed as the league hopes to finally reopen its doors for the fans when the Chooks to Go MPBL Invitational kicks off on Dec. 11 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes and Chooks To Go President Ronald Mascarinas during the MPBL draw ceremony ( Chooks To Go MPBL Photo)

Duremdes is expecting to see a limited audience in the 15,000-seater MOA Arena during MPBL games although he clarified it’s still under approval from the local government unit of Pasay City. The league also needs to get the green light from the Inter-Agency Task Foce (IATF) in order to allow audiences in the venue.

“We’re expecting (audience in the venue) as long as i-allow tayo ng LGU natin which is Pasay and of course with the approval of the IATF,” said Duremdes.

Before the pandemic, MPBL usually had crowded venues under the league’s previous home-and-away format.

“Di pa tapos yung laban natin sa COVID ‘yun ‘yung pinaka malaking difference. Unlike ‘yung sa previous season na we’re doing the home-and-away format so more on engagement sa mga fans, napakaraming nanonood,” added Duremdes who hopes to have some sense of normalcy by allowing small crowd in the venue.

“Ngayon limited but hopefully sa Pasay LGU bigyan tayo ng kaunting crowd para naman masaya yung mga laro natin,” he added.

If given the thumbs up, the MPBL commissioner said that the games will be free for live audiences although only fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed in the venue

“Gaya ng sabi ko kanina sana payagan tayo at makita natin kayo dun sa venue. I think it’s free for the public, so wala pong bayad welcome po kayo doon as long as again vaccinated kayo. Let’s just enjoy the game,” added Duremdes.

A total of 22 teams are set to battle it out in the 13-day pocket tournament with the winner getting the P2 million cash prize. Second and third placers, meanwhile, will have P500,000 and P250,000 respectively. The invitational also adapted the FIBA format where the top two teams of each of the four groups will advance in the quarterfinals and the playoffs which will be in a single-elimination bracket.