As health restrictions tighten anew in NCR, PBA offers teams alternative training measure
Philippine Basketball Association teams that want to practice can get out of Metro Manila, stay away from neighboring provinces and secure a blessing from the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) while awaiting the lifting of the newly-implemented modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial revealed as much to the Inquirer, as the league tries to take a proactive approach to dealing with the tightening of quarantine restrictions anew in Metro Manila triggered by a surge of COVID-19 cases.
“They can [practice elsewhere], yes, but it would have to be supervised by the GAB as agreed upon,” Marcial told the Inquirer on Tuesday. “We cannot stop those teams from trying to get in shape if they want, but they have to make sure that they gather in a place not under MECQ.”
Go-signal for PSL
The PBA is trying to stay a step ahead of the pandemic after GAB, in the wake of the imposition of MECQ in Metro Manila, said the ability of professional leagues to strictly comply with safety protocols and health guidelines in workouts will be the basis of the government’s decision in ultimately giving the go-signal to resume actual competitions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The return to MECQ restrictions derailed the PBA’s plans to reboot its milestone 45th season and came just as Philippine SuperLiga (PSL) chair Philip Ella Juico on Thursday said the volleyball league has received the green light to return to training through a memorandum from the Department of Health (DOH) dated July 23.
But the PSL teams can only train once the MECQ is lifted.
The PBA restart, as well as the Philippines Football League’s, will be delayed yet again after Malacañang placed NCR, Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan under MECQ last Sunday night, essentially prohibiting nonessential personnel from stepping out of their homes from Aug. 4 to 18.Praying for improvement
“That’s why we have reset the testing (of all PBA players) after the 18th,” Marcial said, who is still clinging on to hope that he could resume the Philippine Cup before the end of the year, depending, of course, on how the rest of the country fares in its battle with the coronavirus.
“We’re praying that the situation in the country improves, first and foremost,” Marcial went on. “And when it does, then we will think of resuming play and giving our countrymen some form of entertainment. The PBA, after all, has been a staple for the last 45 years.”The original PBA schedule for a restart would have been a week from August 7, the last day of testing of its players.
There was a chance that the Philippine Cup, which was able to play just one game of the season last March 8, could start in October under the league’s own version of a “bubble” that would require players, staff and all other league personnel to travel only from home, practice and venue and vice versa.
“We don’t mind another delay, we’re willing to adjust (to the situation),” Marcial said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
GAB chair Baham Mitra remains hopeful that professional sports may still resume this year even without a vaccine after the signing of the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) of the GAB, the Philippine Sports Commission and the Department of Health. And much of that will depend on the success of the safety protocols that will be put in place by respective pro leagues as indicated by the JAO.
“I think if proper protocols are in place and there will be no incidents, that will be the perfect (scenario), but we’re realists,” Mitra said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum webcast last Tuesday. “We know that something might happen and we’re anticipating it. We don’t want to be blamed.”
In a letter, Health Assistant Secretary Nestor Santiago Jr. approved and made some recommendations on the health and safety guidelines submitted by the PSL.
“This is really a big development as we are the first volleyball league to be allowed to return to training,” Juico said in a statement. —WITH A REPORT FROM CEDELF P. TUPAS
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