Blackwater faces a stiff fine from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and a different kind of sanction from the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) for a violation of strict health and safety protocols after the Elite held practice recently outside of the league’s closed-circuit approach to a restart.
GAB Chair Abraham Mitra said the Elite could face sanctions for holding practice with the joint administrative order (JAO) of the GAB, Philippine Sports Commission, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) yet to be signed.
The IATF decision was actually announced on July 3 by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, but PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said the league has yet to receive the JAO from the task force, which means that teams are still not allowed to hold practices amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The PBA is targeting July 22 as the tentative date for the restart of practices.
“They (Elite) will be dealt with separately by the PBA and the GAB,” Mitra said in a statement, even as recent developments point to the team being fined by the PBA as a whole after Barangay Ginebra star Japeth Aguilar and Rain or Shine rookie Adrian Wong were slapped P20,000-fines two weeks ago for playing in a five-on-five game at a private gym in San Juan.
“Possible fines and suspensions will be issued. They violated the omnibus guidelines of the IATF on safety protocols,” added the GAB chief, who has also written Blackwater governor Silliman Sy seeking an explanation for their actions.
Mitra required Sy to show cause in writing why disciplinary action should not be taken against the team.
Blackwater’s practice was discovered when Sports Page, a program of TV5, interviewed team owner Dioceldo Sy, who was quoted as: “I personally saw them last Saturday. I went to the practice. I saw the protocol. What we’re doing is very strict and what we did is we put the teams in 8×8. Today will be eight players in two hours, four players per hour.”
Sy’s only problem, though, is that the only time teams can start even seeing each other is on July 22, which is a violation of the deal that the IATF, through the endorsement of the GAB, awarded the PBA in its appeal to restart its 45th season.
“Please be reminded that although the IATF already approved team training through IATF Resolution No. 51, the GAB and DOH have yet to sign the joint administrative order,” Mitra said in his letter. “The JAO will serve as the implementing guidelines, which shall govern the conduct of professional and nonprofessional sports training while the country is under community quarantine.”
Marcial said the league has yet to decide what action it would take against the Elite, pending their response to his letter addressed to Silliman on Tuesday.
But the PBA commissioner has repeatedly warned teams and players against violating quarantine rules.
Dioceldo, Silliman’s brother, insisted that his team followed strict health protocols during the workouts and added that the team even conducted rapid testing before holding the practice.
But as part of the league’s strengthened health protocols, Marcial said players and staff must undergo swab testing three days prior to the resumption of practice.
Marcial described the league’s approach to a season resumption as closed-circuit, which means players are only allowed to go to their homes and the training facilities. But the league had established several protocols—and a start date for its circuit—to ensure the safest health environment possible.
Every practice session requires teams to be divided into clusters of four, along with a coach and a safety officer for a total of six persons within the area. The training facility would be sanitized to hospital levels before practices can start.
But with the Blackwater practice happening outside of the PBA’s monitoring, it wasn’t clear what protocols were established by the Elite.
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