The MBA overtook the Philippine Basketball Association's (PBA) plans on regionalization when the league adopted a home-and-away format where teams, instead of representing companies, 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 is 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 is 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 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.
The MBA had adopted several methods of determining its champion. The season concludes with the MBA Finals, where the Northern Conference champion faces the Southern Conference champion to decide the MBA Championship.
- Batangas Blades (1998-2002; team merged with Manila in 2001)
- Laguna Lakers (1998-2001; team abandoned the league after their owners FedEx joined the PBA in 2002)
- Manila Metrostars (1998-2001; team merged with Batangas in 2001)
- Nueva Ecija Patriots (1999-2001)
- Olongapo Volunteers (2002)
- Pampanga Dragons (1998-2000)
- Pampanga Stars (2002)
- Pangasinan Waves (also known as Presidents) (1998-1999; 2002)
- Pasig-Rizal Pirates(1998-2000)
- San Juan Knights (1998-2001)
- Cebu Gems (1998-2002)
- Davao Eagles (1998-2002)
- Cagayan de Oro Amigos/Nuggets (1998-2000; 2002)
- Iloilo Megavoltz/Volts (1998-2000)
- Negros Slashers (Bacolod City) (1998-2002)
- SoCSarGen Marlins (1998-2001; team renamed as the Socsargen Taguig Marlins in 2001 when the team played its home games in Taguig)
- Surigao Miners/Warriors (1999-2000)
MBA Most Valuable Players
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||Batangas Blades||Negros Slashers||3-1|
|2002||Batangas Blades||Negros Slashers||0-3|
- Ramon Fernandez (1998-1999)
- Gregorio "Ogie" Narvasa II (2000-2001)
- Severino "Butch" Antonio (2001)
- Joaquin "Chito" Loyzaga (2002)
- Manila-Cebu - Seen as a rivalry of two basketball hotbeds in the Philippines. Both teams played the first MBA game on March 6, 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 Division 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 is 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 in the Southeast Asian Games in Brunei. they made it after winning the national championship over the Cebu Gems. Coach Louie Alas led the RP Team to win the Gold Medal by beating Thailand. majority of the line-up were players from the Metrostars led by Adducul and Camaso and recruited some players from other teams.