A step at a time
As the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) prepares to put players in gyms for individual training, the league will be looking to take the next step of assembling teams for scrimmages. And if all the right boxes are ticked, it’s on to the final stop: resuming a season halted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will be looking to meet certain health and disciplinary guidelines,” said Willie Marcial, the PBA commissioner, on the heels of another fruitful meeting, this time with the league’s Board of Governors.
Saturday’s meeting was to formally green light the resumption of individual training and conditioning sessions for players. The goal is to get players back in game shape while checking if protocols applied by teams can keep everyone infection-free or, at the very least, keep transmission numbers at a minimum.
“That’s the top standard of course. If we can keep infections to zero or at really minimal numbers, then we can say it’s successful,” Marcial added.
But that won’t be the only yardstick for the PBA. Even more important is the monitoring system that will be implemented.
“If we can have ensure that our system of logging players is efficient, that’s another thing we will be looking out for to say that we are already ready for the next phase,” the commissioner said.
Last Friday, Marcial discussed the health and safety protocols with coaches.
“I thought everything was logical and well laid-out,” coach Tim Cone told the Inquirer shortly after that meeting. “It will now be up to us coaches and players to strictly implement what was presented.”
If the league meets its health standards with the individual workouts, the next step would be to seek approval from the government to hold scrimmages and other full-contact drills. But moving to the next phase won’t be based solely on the applied quarantine restrictions in the city.
“Even if quarantine restrictions are further loosened, we don’t want to rush to scrimmages,” Marcial said. “We want to do things slowly and give players a chance to be confident enough to go through contact drills and team workouts.”
Marcial said the league will assess the success of its first phase by August before making the request to go to the second phase.
An approval from the government on that request—and zero-to-low infection rates—would virtually send the league barreling straight to a restart. The league suspended its season on March 12, playing only a single match in the Philippine Cup—between defending champion San Miguel Beer and Magnolia.
But Marcial said protocols for scrimmages would be doubly stricter and has assigned a team from his office to look at other leagues that have made restarts, particularly the NBA, so they can develop some sort of a template.
The commissioner also acknowledges fact that the coronavirus will always be a threat, which is why team executives unanimously agreed to shoulder medical expenses in the event that a member of any of the 12 PBA teams tests positive for COVID-19.
Marcial also said that San Miguel Corp. sports director Alfrancis Chua, who also serves as Ginebra’s team governor, moved to upgrade the league’s initial detection screening to swab testing.
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