PBA takes baby step as SMC boss Ang offers free testing for league employees
It’s a small step, but an important one. Employees of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will undergo free COVID-19 testing courtesy of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) chief operating officer Ramon Ang, pushing the league at least one notch up in a plot to resume its season.
Ang, whose conglomerate owns three franchises in the PBA, offered the PBA free use of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction testing machines and automated RNA (ribonucleic acid) extraction systems for coronavirus testing.
The offer runs parallel with PBA commissioner Willie Marcial’s preference for the league to not jump testing lines in its bid to resume a suspended 45th season.
“I always said we don’t want to be treated like VIPs,” Marcial told the Inquirer on Tuesday. “That’s why this offer is right for us because SMC has already donated testing kits and machines to the government before us.”
Ang’s offer comes after he had already donated several of the same machines to the Department of Health and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to bolster the government’s testing capacity.
SMC also doled out testing kits to the 17 National Capital Region local government units.
For the meantime, the tests were offered to 41 PBA employees, which allows the league to kick-start plans to resume playing again.
“It’s a very important step because it allows us to see how we can draft future protocols,” Marcial said in Filipino. “From this, we can now observe and learn how to conduct tests and how soon we can get results.”
Barangay Ginebra board of governor and SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua relayed Ang’s offer on Monday during a visit to the PBA office.
“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to SMC president Ramon Ang for the huge help he has given to ensure the health and safety of PBA employees,” Marcial said in Filipino in a statement forwarded to media offices.
Marcial said the testing will help the league as he plots its comeback, especially with some teams, reportedly, already having their personnel tested.
The commissioner said in the event the government allows the league to sanction non-contact workout and training sessions, he will ask the board to require frequent testing on players, coaches and trainers that will be handled by the PBA office. INQ
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