Philippine Basketball League
|Founded||May 6, 1983|
|Motto||Where the future begins|
The Philippine Basketball League (PBL) was a commercial semi-professional basketball league in the Philippines. The league is composed of several commercial teams with several collegiate and provincial stars.
The PBL was formed in May 6, 1983, a brainchild of San Miguel Corporation chairman Danding Cojuangco, under its original name the Philippine Amateur Basketball League (PABL). It was the successor of the defunct Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA), which folded during the early-1980s. During the inaugural PABL tournament, over 36 collegiate and commercial teams participated in the tournament that was played in the historic Rizal Memorial Coliseum. De La Salle University emerged champion.
Towards the end of 1983, 16 teams founded the PABL and the league held its first official tourney, the Founder's Cup. Arellano University was the champion of the tournament. During their second year in 1984, three PABL tournaments were held: the Ambassador's Cup won by Development Bank of Rizal, the President's Cup, and the Invitationals, the two latter won by ESQ Marketing.
In 1985, the PABL scored a big breakthrough. Faced with an economic crisis, the league was able to get the sponsorship of San Miguel Corporation. Eighteen teams joined the 1st SMC-sponsored Invitationals with ESQ Marketing winning its third straight title against a strong Lagerlite crew. With the tremendous success of the tournament, San Miguel again agreed to be the sole sponsor of the second PABL conference that year, won by Army Jungle Fighters, dubbed as the "Challenge to champions." Sixteen teams saw action. The cast included 12 commercial teams and 4 collegiate squads especially the NCAA and UAAP champions, San Sebastian College and University of the East. 
In the 1990s, the league was renamed as the Philippine Basketball League under Andy Jao, who would later return to the broadcasting panel of the PBA coverage on Vintage Sports. Jao's replacement, Charlie Favis later adopted a new theme, calling the PBL as the "faster league". Yeng Guiao replaced Favis, when Guiao left the coaching ranks. The league gained early success with the dominance of the Tanduay Rhum Masters, the arrival of Eric Menk and Asi Taulava, and the holding PBL games at the air-conditioned Makati Coliseum.
In 2000, former Vintage Sports commentator Chino Trinidad replaced Guiao, when the commissioner resigned to coach Red Bull in the Philippine Basketball Association, the country's premier professional basketball league. The PBL's popularity grew, inviting commercial teams bannered by single collegiate teams, and the league also gained a stable broadcast partner in Studio 23. In 2007, PBL broke away from Studio 23 and signed an agreement with cable channel Basketball TV to broadcast the games. Chino Trinidad announced in March 2010 that he would be retiring as commissioner of the PBL and said he would be focusing his career as reporter of GMA Network and sportscaster for Solar Sports.
Through an agreement between the PBL and the Liga Pilipinas, a joint tournament was held in June 2010. The agreement was made as dry-run of a proposed "Developmental League", which was initiated by the Philippine Basketball Association, just like NBA's D-League. The tournament was planned to be named "Tournament of the Philippines". Tournament of the Philippines started June 9, 2010, and used the Liga Pilipinas' home-and-away leg format with 9 teams involved, 3 from the PBL and 6 from Liga Pilipinas. M.Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Ninos became the 1st (and last) TOP champions by defeating Misamis Oriental Meteors, 3-2. After the tournament, merger talks between the 2 leagues went sour and were put off for good. The Philippine Basketball Association then announced that they would organize instead the "PBA Developmental League", or the PBA D-League, on their own after merger talks between PBL and Liga Pilipinas failed.
In 2011, the PBL's board of governors named Nolan Bernardino, son of former PBA commissioner Emilio "Jun" Bernardino, as the new PBL commissioner, while Sports Vision, the company behind the success of Shakey's V-League, was named as the group that would handle PBL's day-to-day operations. However, the league experienced great difficulty finding six teams for the 2011 opening tournament when four of the teams that had earlier confirmed their participation jumped ship to the PBA D-League, namely Pharex, Agri Nurture-FCA, Cafe France and Cobra Energy Drink. PBL Commissioner Nolan Bernardino said he had already been informed of the matter and that he respected the transferring teams' decisions. This resulted in the PBL being disbanded.
PABL teams in the 1980s
*Played in the '86 Invitationals, Division II. UE, UST, SSC and Letran also played in '85 Challenge to champions
PBL teams in the 1990s
PBL teams in the 2000s
Beginning the 2007 season, the PBL games were seen on Basketball TV (a channel of the Solar family of cable networks) after several years of being shown on UHF television station Studio 23. Games were televised every Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 5-9 pm Philippine time plus rebroadcasts on BTV in the wee hours of the morning. RPN also had a delayed telecast of Tuesday's second game, but this was moved to IBC-13 on Saturdays, until the season-ending 2008 Lipovitan Amino Sports Cup. The coverage eventually returned to RPN named as C/S 9 (now Solar TV). The telecast of the games were live but the other games were delayed subject to prior coverage of the games until 2010.
Prior to BTV, previous broadcasters included ABS-CBN, People's Television Network (later National Broadcasting Network), Silverstar Sports, Solar Sports and Vintage Television, as the games were usually put on airtime slots. With ABS-CBN, the league initially forged a deal in 2003 as a blocktimer, then in 2004 renewed ties to make ABS-CBN Sports its official TV producer/coverer and Studio 23 its official carrying station of the games.
DZSR Sports Radio 918 kHz, a government station, had been airing the PBL games on radio since the start of the PABL back in the mid-1980s.
In 2002, the league opened its official website, myPBL.com, powered by E-Highway. In 2007, the website transferred to a new address at PhilippineBasketballLeague.org with the alternate address PBL.org.ph
Broadcast Partners of the PBL
- Silverstar Communications
- National Broadcasting Network
- Vintage Television / IBC-13
- ABS-CBN Sports
- Basketball TV
- Radio Philippines Network-Solar TV
The PBL and the Philippine Basketball Association
The Philippine Basketball Association, the premier basketball league in the country, has a special relationship with the PBL; several teams in the PBL are owned by companies also having PBA teams (such as San Miguel Corporation's PBL team is San Mig Coffee, with SMC also owning 3 PBA teams). The PBL is also one of the leagues where the PBA gets their players. Even quite a few successful PBL teams transferred to the PBA (although a system of promotion and relegation is not practiced in the Philippines), such as Purefoods, Red Bull, Welcoat and most recently Burger King.
- Jose "Joe" Pavia (1983-1984)
- Mauricio "Moying" Martellino (1985-1988)
- Andy Jao (1989-1990)
- Gregorio "Ogie" Narvasa II (1991-1992)
- Philip Ella Juico (1993-1994)
- Charlie Favis (1994-1997)
- Joseller "Yeng" Guiao (1997-2000)
- Manolo "Chino" L. Trinidad (2000-2010).
- Nolan Bernardino (2011)