Metropolitan Basketball Association


The Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA), or Metroball, was a professional basketball league in the Philippines that ran from March 7, 1998, to July 26, 2002.

Metropolitan Basketball Association
FoundedMarch 7, 1998; 24 years ago (1998-03-07)
CeasedJuly 26, 2002; 20 years ago (2002-07-26)
No. of teams16
Country Philippines
RCPI-Negros Slashers


The MBA played its first game on March 7, 1998, at the Don Narciso Ramos Sports Complex in Lingayen, Pangasinan.[1] Unlike the Philippine Basketball Association, in which teams represent companies, the MBA teams represented a particular city, province or island in the country. The league brought basketball closer to the people, and it raided the PBA for talent.

The MBA was widely viewed as broadcast giant ABS-CBN's attempt to undermine the PBA after failing to snatch its broadcast rights in 1998.

Metroball allowed foreigners to play for their teams, not requiring Philippine passports of them, nor requiring those foreigners to have Filipino blood. All the league required was that these players be born in the Philippines.

As a direct result of this practice, the MBA and its foreign-born players began attracting attention away from the PBA, forcing the PBA to escalate their own players' salaries and practically rendering the PBA draft useless through a "direct hiring" process.

This allowed PBA teams like Talk 'N Text and Tanduay to negotiate directly with MBA players or MBA prospects (like Asi Taulava and Sonny Alvarado) for their services.

However, the league folded on July 26, 2002, due to extremely high expenses on funding a regional basketball league, and most especially when broadcast partner ABS-CBN withdrew funding for the league. Several players went to the semi-professional Philippine Basketball League en route to the PBA.

Season formatEdit

The MBA had a season similarly styled to that of the National Basketball Association. The teams were grouped into two conferences: Northern (Luzon and Metro Manila) and Southern (Visayas/Mindanao). The season concluded with the MBA National Finals, where the Northern Conference champion faced the Southern Conference champion to decide the MBA Championship.

After the league adapted a semi-commercial format (teams are sponsored by companies), several methods were used to in determining its champion. In their final season, they have adapted a three-conference format, similar with the PBA.


Location of the teams.

Northern ConferenceEdit

Southern ConferenceEdit

  • Cebu Gems (1998–2002; team renamed as the Cebuana Lhullier Gems in 2001)
  • Davao Eagles (1998–2002)
  • Cagayan de Oro Amigos (also known as Cagayan de Oro Nuggets) (1998–2000; 2002)
  • Iloilo Megavoltz (also known as Iloilo Volts) (1998–2000)
  • Negros Slashers (Bacolod) (1998–2002; team renamed as the RCPI-Negros Slashers in 2002)
  • SocSarGen Marlins (1998–2001; team renamed as the Socsargen Taguig Marlins in 2001 when the team played its home games in Taguig)
  • Surigao Warriors (1999–2000)
Teams 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Batangas Blades / LBC-Batangas Blades  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y
Cagayan de Oro Nuggets/Amigos / Casino CDO Amigos  Y  Y  Y  Y
Cebu Gems / Cebuana Lhuillier Gems  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y
Davao Eagles / Professional Davao Eagles  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y
Iloilo Volts/Megavoltz  Y  Y  Y
Laguna Lakers / FedEx-Laguna Lakers  Y  Y  Y  Y
Manila Metrostars  Y  Y  Y
Negros Slashers / RCPI-Negros Slashers  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y
Nueva Ecija Patriots  Y  Y  Y
Gilbey's-Olongapo Volunteers  Y
Pampanga Dragons/Stars  Y  Y  Y  Y
Pangasinan Presidents / Osaka Pangasinan Waves  Y  Y  Y
Pasig Blue Pirates/Pasig-Rizal Pirates  Y  Y  Y
San Juan Knights / Andok's-San Juan Knights  Y  Y  Y
SocSarGen Marlins / Taguig Marlins  Y  Y  Y  Y
Surigao Miners/Warriors  Y  Y




The MBA had a set of its unique rules compared to the PBA:

  1. The shot clock was reduced to 23 seconds, as opposed to the PBA's 24 seconds.
  2. The time limit for a team to advance the ball over the center line was reduced to eight seconds, as opposed to PBA's 10 seconds. The PBA later adopted the 8-second limit in 2004, two years after the MBA disbanded.
  3. Free-three - An option to trade a player's two free throws for a free three (one attempt at the three-point arc above the free throw line, worth three points if successfully made) at the last two minutes of the fourth quarter. This option was later made available any time during the game by 1999.
  4. One-for-one situation - There were two penalty situations in the MBA, first is if the team fouls of the opposing team reaches five fouls, the fouled player needed to shoot the first free throw before getting the second. Two free throws were only given to a player if the opposing team incurred seven team fouls.
  5. Blitz Three - Any field goal converted within five seconds of a change of possession will be worth three points. A red siren is installed at the backboard to indicate the Blitz Period. (introduced in 2001)
  6. Foreigners were allowed to play in the league, provided that the player is born in the Philippines.

MBA Most Valuable PlayersEdit

Season Player Team College
1998 John Ferriols Negros USJ-R
1999 Alex Compton Manila Cornell
2000 Rommel Adducul Manila SSC-R
2001 Eddie Laure LBC-Batangas Adamson

MBA ChampionsEdit

Teams in bold won the MBA National Championship.

Season Northern Conference Southern Conference Series
1998 Pampanga Dragons Negros Slashers 4-1
1999 Manila Metrostars Cebu Gems 4-2
2000 San Juan Knights Negros Slashers 4-2
2001 First Phase Andok's-San Juan Knights Negros Slashers 3-1
2001 Second Phase LBC-Batangas Blades Negros Slashers 3-1
2002 LBC-Batangas Blades RCPI-Negros Slashers 0-3
  • October 31, 1998: Pampanga Dragons emerge as the first MBA champions, winning against Negros Slashers in five games. The Dragons clinch the national championship following an 89–85 victory in Game Five at the San Fernando Sports Complex.[2]
  • December 8, 1999: Manila Metrostars rout the Cebu Gems, 101–83 in Game Six, before a hometown crowd at the Mail & More Sports Complex in San Andres and crowned themselves the 1999 MBA national champions.[3]
  • November 25, 2000: San Juan Knights defeated Negros Slashers, 104–91 in Game Six, at the packed San Juan Gym for their first MBA national title since becoming one of the three new teams last season.[4]
  • August 24, 2001: Andok's-San Juan is champions anew in the MBA first phase tournament, scoring a 3–1 series win over Negros Slashers, the same team they beat in the national finals last year. The Knights outscored the Slashers, 30–15 in the final quarter, for a 103–90 victory.[5]
  • December 19, 2001: LBC-Batangas Blades captured their first MBA crown in the second phase of the 2001 season, beating hard-luck Negros Slashers, 94–75 in Game Four, for a 3–1 series victory.[6]
  • June 1, 2002: After four runner-up finishes, RCPI-Negros finally win their first MBA title. The Slashers completed a three-game sweep off LBC-Batangas Blades. Winning Slashers coach Jojo Villapando now joined the elite list of MBA champion coaches.[7]

Key FiguresEdit



  • Manila-Cebu - Seen as a rivalry of two basketball hotbeds in the Philippines. Both teams played the first MBA game on March 7, 1998, in Pangasinan with Metrostars defeating the Gems. Manila and Cebu also entangled in a regular season match in August 1999 which saw Manila escape with a nail-biting win that preserved their record 23-game winning streak. Manila later defeated Cebu in the 1999 MBA National Finals. Cebu bounced back, defeating Manila to win the 2000 MBA Interconference tournament.
  • Negros-Cebu - A rivalry of both teams from the Visayas region, and also in the MBA Visayas Division. The Slashers defeated the Gems 4–3 in the 1998 MBA Southern Conference Finals, after Negros trailed 1–3 in the series. The Gems bounced back in the 1999 Southern Conference semis by defeating the Slashers. A game during the series was halted and restarted a week later, due to physical play and fan behavior. Negros bounced back in 2000, defeating Cebu in the Southern finals.
  • Davao-Cebu - A Southern Conference rivalry, had a game in 1998 halted due to physical play while fans pelted the court with debris.
  • Pasig-San Juan - A Northern Conference rivalry between both nearby Metro Manila cities. Probably the most intense rivalry in MBA history, with games being halted with fights from both players on the court and rival fans in attendance. Pasig-Rizal defeated San Juan to win the 1999 MBA Northern Conference Two title and also eliminated the Knights in the 1999 Northern Conference semifinals.


  • The Manila Metrostars set a league record in 1999 by winning 22 consecutive games only to be halted by the Negros Slashers during the elimination round, en route to a 26–4 record and the MBA National Championship. The record was also seen by many as the most in Philippine professional basketball history, breaking the PBA's Crispa Redmanizers' record of 21 consecutive victories in 1983.
  • Felix Belano of the Davao Eagles was the only player to record a quadruple-double in MBA history (if a player records a double-figure numbers in four categories such as points, rebounds, assists, blocks or steals) during a game against the Nueva Ecija Patriots in 1999. Belano later had a stint with the Talk 'N Text Phone Pals of the PBA.
  • Peter Martin made the first shot in the history of the MBA when his Manila Metrostars they faced the Cebu Gems in the opening of the league in 1998.
  • The SocSarGen Marlins became the first team to register a win in the first double-header of the league in 1998. Max Delantes led the way for the Marlins.
  • Stephen Padilla holds the record for most 3-point shots made with 10 as he scores 40 points with a 10/10 from the 3-point arc in 2001.
  • John Ferriols was the first MVP of the tournament while Alex Compton was the first American player to be named MVP of the MBA in 1999.
  • In 1999, the Manila Metrostars became the first MBA team to banner a team at the 1999 Southeast Asian Games in Brunei. They made it before winning the national championship over the Cebu Gems. Coach Louie Alas led the RP Team to win the Gold Medal by beating Thailand. The majority of the line-up were the players from the Metrostars led by Adducul and Camaso and recruited some players from other teams.


  1. ^ "Basketball rivalry goes from court to court". Manila Standard.
  2. ^ "Pampanga Dragons crowned first MBA champs". Philippine Headline News Online.
  3. ^ "Manila is 1999 MBA champion". Philippine Headline News Online.
  4. ^ "San Juan bags national title". Philippine Daily Inquirer.
  5. ^ "Andok's San Juan MBA champ anew". Philippine Daily Inquirer.
  6. ^ "Blades capture MBA crown". Philippine Daily Inquirer.
  7. ^ "RCPI Negros sweeps LBC". Philippine Daily Inquirer.

External linksEdit

  • The MBA's Dream Team
  • Long before they became coach and player, Compton, Hontiveros were rivals in epic MBA