Wait and see game for PBA: season opening, setup not yet cast in stone
An April opening for the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) 46th season seems bleaker by the day after the national government said that it hopes to take “proactive measures” during the pandemic by putting four provinces around the capital back under general community quarantine (GCQ).
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) said in its latest resolution that it will place Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal back under GCQ in hopes of mitigating the surge of new COVID-19 infections.
The pro league has chosen Ynares Center in Antipolo City, which is situated in Rizal province, as a venue for its games this year.
But commissioner Willie Marcial is not pushing the panic button just yet.
“We pretty much can’t do anything if that’s what the national government intends to do,” he told the Inquirer on Sunday. “We always have to adjust.”
“But from what I understand, it will be until April 4. So we’ll see what our status is by then,” he added.
The new IATF resolution is actually dated Mar. 20, and was only announced to take effect on Sunday. It will run up until April 4 and its expiry subject for review.
Marcial hopes he doesn’t have to push the start of the season to a later date for the fourth time. He is, however, confident that the league could pull something off “until the end of April.”
That optimism stems from the fact that the league faced an even more turbulent time last year.
“Remember last year, we started talking about a restart around August. It got moved to September. Then suddenly, October,” he said.
As delays continue to hound the league, the option to again hold the season within a biosecure environment gains traction.
And while Marcial said the league’s leadership is not too keen of mounting another bubble, the idea is not completely out of the table.
“You know, the biggest challenge of the bubble setup is the strain on mental health—especially on the players. They’ve been through it and they’re out of it. So I’m not really sure [if it will be favored],” he said.
“But to be honest, we have not closed the door on that.”
Marcial said he and the team governors are set to meet again early in April to discuss moves on how to navigate the April kickoff.
“We’re trying to get a feel of things until April 4. But I’m pretty sure there’d be a meeting right after it,” he said.