Manny Pacquiao advocates responsible gaming amidst expanding sports ventures   

Jenny Ortiz 2 weeks ago
Manny Pacquiao advocates responsible gaming amidst expanding sports ventures   

Manny Pacquiao, a name synonymous with boxing greatness, is also making headway in the world of sports outside the ring. The Filipino icon, an eight-division world boxing champion and former senator of the Philippines, is the founder of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).   

In an exclusive interview with SiGMA News, Pacquiao shared his journey with MPBL, his passion for sports, and his thoughts on the intersection of sports and betting, emphasising the importance of responsible gaming.  

A passion for basketball  

Pacquiao told SiGMA News that his love for basketball began long before his boxing career. “Before I started boxing, I already loved basketball,” he recalled. Growing up near a basketball court, Pacquiao played daily, making basketball his first love. Recognising the nation’s fervour for the sport, he said founded MPBL to provide a platform for Filipino basketball players.  

The MPBL, which started as a small tournament at Pacquiao’s home in General Santos City, has grown into a national league. “First, I organized a tournament in our house in GenSan [General Santos City],” he explained. This grassroots initiative eventually expanded, culminating in a professional league with the inaugural national season being highly successful.  

Overcoming challenges and achieving success  

Building the MPBL was not without its challenges. Pacquiao recounted the difficulties in securing teams and funding, often using his resources to keep the league running. “I paid for the whole season’s airtime, which cost me around 250 million pesos,” he shared, highlighting his commitment to the sport and the league. Despite these hurdles, the league thrived, attracting enthusiastic fans and players alike.  

Pacquiao’s dedication to basketball is also evident in his efforts to promote other sports. “I’m organising volleyball, and of course, boxing,” he said, indicating his broader vision to foster a sporting culture in the Philippines.  

Home-and-away format: A winning strategy in the Philippine basketball scene  

According to Pacquiao, the MPBL’s home-and-away format has significantly contributed to its success, enhancing fan engagement and excitement. “I’m very surprised by the result of the home-and-away games, especially in the provinces like Zamboanga,” Pacquiao noted. This format, inspired by the NBA, has helped the MPBL resonate deeply with local communities, strengthening regional identities through sports.  

Promoting responsible gaming  

MPBL is available on sports betting platforms, prompting Pacquiao to address the issue of responsible gaming. “I’m known inside and outside the ring to have integrity. My goal is to educate them on how to moderately control their gambling,” he emphasised. Pacquiao acknowledged the cultural inclination of Filipinos towards betting but urged moderation and discipline. “I just want to remind them that if they cannot avoid it, then just practice responsible gaming.”  

Pacquiao’s stance aligns with broader efforts to promote regulated and responsible gaming, especially with events like SiGMA Asia advocating for these principles. “Although I’m not encouraging gambling, Filipinos love to gamble even small amounts for more excitement during games,” he said, reinforcing the need for balanced and mindful participation.  

Expanding the Maharlika Pilipinas brand   

Pacquiao’s vision extends beyond basketball. He has launched the Maharlika Pilipinas Volleyball Association (MPVA) and has plans to support other sports, including football. “I just want to show them that Manny Pacquiao is a lover of sports,” he declared, emphasising his commitment to nurturing various athletic talents across the country.  

Despite challenges like limited facilities for sports like football, Pacquiao remains undeterred. “Football is part of my plan, but we don’t have enough spaces to play,” he admitted. Nonetheless, his efforts in basketball and volleyball are already making significant impacts, with plans to continue expanding these initiatives.  

A legacy of inspiration and service  

Pacquiao’s contributions to sports are part of his broader mission to inspire and support young athletes. Recently, the league launched the Junior MPBL, providing a platform for young talents to develop and showcase their skills. “Junior MPBL is going to be a farm team of each main MPBL team,” he explained, highlighting his strategic approach to building a robust sports ecosystem.   

“There’s more for MPBL. We will launch and announce [our] plans,” he promised, indicating that his journey in sports is far from over. Pacquiao’s story is not just one of athletic triumph but also of unwavering dedication to fostering a healthier, more engaged, and responsible sporting community in the Philippines. 

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