23 July 2015

ABS-CBN Pushes for New Basketball League

By Camille B. Naredo
ABS-CBNnews.com, 20 July 2015

A new basketball league focusing on local players will be unveiled in 2016 with the debut of the Countrywide Basketball League (CWBL).

Filipino players who have graduated from college but missed out on the chance to make it to the professional league will have the chance to show their talent and skills through the CWBL, where they will play for local teams based in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and Metro Manila.

"The coverage of the game will give focus to localities," explained CWBL chairman Atty. Rey Gamboa during Monday's contract signing with ABS-CBN Sports. "Most of the games will be played in the provinces."

"The objective is two-fold," he added, "One, we would like to give hundreds of basketball players who graduate every year from their respective schools, but only a handful of which will find their way to the professional leagues."

"In the meantime, they're just playing in minor leagues in their localities. At least through CWBL games, they have the opportunity to play not only in localities, but in various other locations, and they will be given TV exposure," he also said.

Gamboa said that while the focus of the league is "local and regional," the coverage of the league will be nationwide, thanks to their partnership with ABS-CBN.

The CWBL kicks off in early 2016, possibly in January or the first week of February.

In the meantime, ABS-CBN Sports will be slowly but surely introducing the league to basketball fans nationwide.

"This is the first time in a long time that we are reaching out not only to players, but to the Filipino audience in the provinces," said Dino Laurena of ABS-CBN Sports.

There will be a maximum of eight teams competing in the CWBL, and the ideal scenario for Gamboa is for four teams to compete from Luzon and Metro Manila, and for four more teams to compete from Visayas and Mindanao.

"It's possible that the provinces may not be able to come up with competitive teams, but in the long run, there will be a lot of players from Visayas and Mindanao," he said. "We're following the NBA model, with the east and the west (conferences)."

The CWBL will prioritize players who have graduated from college, but they can only play in the league until they are 32 years old.

"The objective is to give more opportunities for young players," said Gamboa, who also stressed that foreign players will not be allowed to compete in the CWBL, although Filipino-foreign players with complete papers are qualified.

There will be two conferences, with the possibility of a "grand finals" in the end of the season to determine the overall champion, Gamboa added.

"If we will just have conferences and conference champions, but no overall champion, it doesn't make much sense," Gamboa said. "We will be just like the PBA, where you have three conference champions, but no overall champion."

"So what we're aiming for is to have two conferences and the best teams will compete for the overall championship."

Coach Joe Lipa will serve as the league's vice president and general manager for basketball operations.

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