The PBA ramped up plans to restart its suspended 45th season after the government approved on Friday requests from the basketball and football associations to allow players to resume training sessions.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial was elated over the development, saying the league was getting closer to a return to action but adding that several steps and protocols needed to be put in place before it could do so. Marcial has set a July 10 meeting with team officials to further bolster the league’s path to a season resumption.
“[W]e’ll be talking about protocols and check with the coaches and managers for suggestions,” he told the Inquirer.
On top of the measures he wants in place is a stricter monitoring over training sessions and player activity to make sure that no one will breach established protocols. The concern comes at the heels of videos circulating on social media showing basketball standouts scrimmaging 5-on-5, a violation of previously established quarantine guidelines implemented to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
No more breaches
“We want to make sure that players will follow protocols a little more strictly this time,” Marcial said. “We won’t allow any more violation of whatever guidelines and health protocols we will have.”
The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) also expressed elation over the government’s decision to allow players to resume individual training.
“We are very happy, of course,” SBP president Al Panlilio told the Inquirer. “This is very much welcome to the Philippine basketball family.”
“We thank the [Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] and the GAB (Games and Amusements Board) … for their approval in ensuring that professional sports may push through despite the ongoing pandemic,” PFF president Mariano Araneta said in a statement.
The go signal was given through a Joint Administrative Order by the Philippine Sports Commission, the GAB and the Department of Health, which details the “guidelines on the conduct of health-enhancing physical activities and sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Practice and conditioning are now allowed in basketball and football, in accordance with the request of the PBA and other football associations,” Harry Roque, the presidential spokesperson, said in Filipino during a televised press briefing on Friday noon.
But there is still a lot of work to be done before a game can actually be played. In fact, it will take time before official training can resume.
After getting inputs from coaches and team managers, league chair Ricky Vargas will call for a board meeting to formalize the protocols needed for training.
“After that, maybe within five to seven days, the PBA can finally get back to training,” Marcial said.
Some PBA coaches also tempered their excitement pending the July 10 meeting with Marcial.
“[There are still] so much details [that] needs to be worked out,” Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone told the Inquirer. “We’ll still need to find out what the exact protocols will be from the PBA.”
“We’re still far from what we all long for, which is official games,” said coach Leo Austria of the reigning Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer.
“But the mere fact that we’re making such progress gives hope to the people,” he added. “It’s still quite the development.”
Marcial said that among the protocols includes players and staff members to be tested three days before the first practice then another round of tests for every 10 days once the training sessions start. The PBA will also require the players and coaches to file disclosures every time they leave their homes or receive visitors before they be allowed to practice.
“We will also make sure that their training venues are sanitized to hospital standards,” the commissioner added.
The PFF will also establish its own set of protocols and will shoulder the first round of COVID-19 testing of players.
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