For the people’s sake
Two months and 11 days after the PBA shut down its 45th season because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, there’s no doubt that the teams—and the league—are losing heavily in terms of media mileage and finances.
But if ever the PBA gets to salvage part of what was supposed to be a milestone season, commissioner Willie Marcial and the board of governors aren’t thinking of recouping anything as far as their expenses are concerned, but to just be able to give the Filipinos what has been their sports staple for more than four decades now.
“We are not looking at the revenues anymore,” Marcial told the Inquirer on Thursday when asked, if the league does get to play the Philippine Cup sometime in September, how much of the lost income it would be able to get back with just one conference of action. “Just being able to return [to playing] and reestablishing our presence are good enough for the league.
“And we are sure that a lot of Filipinos will be very happy just to see their PBA back,” he said.
The teams are forking out huge sums monthly as they are not cutting down on salaries of their players, while Marcial’s Commissioner’s Office, according to a different source who doesn’t want to be named, has spent more than P4 million—since play was called off on March 11—to take care of its employees and game-day staff that depend on the league for a living.
There are more than 100 of those people who continue to get paid even if the games aren’t being played, and the Commissioner’s Office continues to pay rent, its staff and what the source said “taxes that would have piled up once the lockdown is over.”
The Philippine Cup, Marcial said, accounts for 35 percent-40 percent of the league’s revenue every season, being the most prestigious and longest tournament each year.
“Like I said, we are not going to play the all-Filipino—in the event that we get the go signal to play again—because we want to recover anything financially,” Marcial said. “We will play that because the Filipino people want to see that tournament. It’s no secret that it’s the most prestigious event of the season.”
San Miguel Beer was shooting to win the PH Cup for a sixth straight year and got a victory over Magnolia in the only game that was played last March 8, before the virus forced all events in the country to take a break.
Meanwhile, Marcial said that the league got a proposal from Barangay Ginebra assistant coach Richard del Rosario as the league continues to entertain any suggestion that could get things restarted.
“We are always welcome to any suggestion and I’m glad that coach Richard has also taken the initiative to come up with ideas of his own,” Marcial said.
“It has been presented to the board, but it is in the back burner at the moment. We can always revisit the proposal as soon as the government further eases quarantine rules because we also have to consider the stand of local government units whether or not they will allow the PBA to hold activities.”
The nine-minute video of Del Rosario calls for the PBA to hold a conference that could last for two months in a controlled setup.
Under the proposal, rapid testing for the coronavirus will be the first step for all teams, which could play the elimination round in just 17 days as the league will schedule four games a day.
“I understand that even if Metro Manila is put under general community quarantine (GCQ), sporting events will still not be allowed,” Del Rosario said.
“However, we are hoping and praying after the GCQ is lifted, that we will be given a window of opportunity wherein we can present to the government a blueprint on how sporting events such as the PBA can still push through, of course, in compliance with government-mandated health protocols.” —With a report from Cedelf P. Tupas
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