They’re all in
Their concerns allayed by the strict health and safety protocols that will be implemented by the league, PBA superstars representing all 12 teams on Tuesday declared their all-out support for the league’s restart of what was supposed to be a milestone 45th season.
Shortly after meeting with commissioner Willie Marcial, Barangay Ginebra guard LA Tenorio and San Miguel forward Arwind Santos told the Inquirer that all players present were unanimous in agreeing to the league’s plan to resume the season amid the coronavirus pandemic. “I think a lot of our concerns were addressed and answered,” said Tenorio, who attended the meeting at the league’s offices in Libis, Quezon City, with teammate Mark Caguioa. “Now our job as leaders of our respective teams is to relay these protocols to our teammates.”
Everything now depends on whether or not the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will allow the league to restart a season that has played just one game before getting shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IATF has yet to decide on the proposal of the PBA to resume the season—starting with practices—but the league has at least gotten the nod from its players. Tenorio said one of his concerns on the return to training was also addressed since the teams will be required to assign a health and safety officer during workouts.
Santos said the safety of the players’ families was also brought up. “We know that we have to be extra careful and disciplined,” Santos said.
But the former MVP stressed it was their job to suit up and play for their teams as soon as the government allows the league to restart.
“At the end of the day, this is still our job,” Santos said in Filipino. “But it helps that the PBA is doing everything to make sure we are all safe.”
“I am very grateful for the positive responses of the players,” said Marcial, who called for the meeting to get the players’ side on the PBA’s plans to resume its season.
Among those who attended were Kiefer Ravena of NLEX, Jayson Castro of TNT, CJ Perez of Columbian and Marc Pingris of Magnolia.
‘Great step forward’
“We put plenty of work in crafting the protocols because we want our players to be safe and we want to as much as possible minimize the risk—if not eliminate the chances altogether—of getting the virus. I think this is a great step forward for the league now that our main cast—the players—are on board with our plan,” Marcial added.
Marcial said he was able to personally discuss the concerns of the players, including that of Chris Ross, who earlier expressed his hesitation on what he described as a “rush” to restart the season.
Santos said that his San Miguel teammate is now in favor of the restart after hearing the safety protocols.
The PBA commissioner will also meet with coaches and team managers in the next few weeks before the league can resume workouts. INQ