Misamis Oriental will join eight other teams in the inaugural Tournament of the Philippines launched yesterday by the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) and Liga Pilipinas as its tie-up to boost the sport. The tournament serves as the dry run for the eventual merger of the two leagues.

The tournament fires off today at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium with Ascof Lagundi squaring off against Trace Laguna in the 1:30 p.m. curtain raiser, while M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala Cebu taking on Ani-FCA at 3:30 p.m.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan has been invited to make the ceremonial toss in the opening rites.

“The PBL with its very strong history and background combined with Liga Pilipinas’ strong foothold in its objectives provide a very great potential of bringing positive change in Philippine basketball,” said SBP executive director and Liga Pilipinas chief executive officer Noli Eala in yesterday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s UN Ave.

“I doubt that we vary in our philosophy which is to develop basketball,” said Eala. “The PBL is a developmental league while Liga focuses on regional talent. We combined the PBL’s strength in media with Liga’s strength in regional on-ground exposure. This is a groundwork for Philippine basketball and may be one of the best things that happened in the sport in the country. In terms of rules, we combined some things and we left some things. We’re very optimistic about our future. This is a start of a fruitful partnership.”

The tournament is adopting the Liga Pilipinas format where teams earn corresponding points in their respective finishes in each leg. A playoff system will be held following the nine-leg phase.

Other teams seeing action are General Santos City, Mandaue and Taguig from Liga Pilipinas and another one from the PBL.

Hosting the second leg is General Santos City.

Basketball TV will telecast the games on a delayed basis from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday.

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