COVID-infected numbers have to drop for 46th Season to start
The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) can open its 46th season only if the number of COVID-19 cases drops, commissioner Willie Marcial said on Thursday.
That was the condition that was laid down shortly after the league’s meeting with Sen. Bong Go and Secretary Salvador Medialdea at Malacañang Palace the day before as the PBA made an appeal to be able to hold a season which has been postponed indefinitely because of a new wave of infections the past month.
“We made requests, [made suggestions]. But they said that the number of cases need to drop. If not, we won’t be able to play,” the league chief said in a press briefing in Filipino.
No exact number
However, Marcial said the league was not given an exact figure with regards to those cases, which has forced the government to put the National Capital Region and four surrounding provinces on lockdown three weeks ago.
The PBA leadership thinks that having the entire PBA family vaccinated will play a crucial role in its bid for its much-awaited start.
Go said the league will gain access to the vaccines ordered by the government once they arrive, according to Alfrancis Chua, the Barangay Ginebra team governor who accompanied Marcial in the meeting.
“We will be given a special slot so we could vaccinate players, their families. The coaches, managers. Everyone [in the PBA]. That would be our chance,” he added.
“According to Sen. Go, we’ll be seeking help from [vaccine czar Secretary] Carlito Galvez for the PBA to get an allocation. But they are also saying that if [the private companies] already have their vaccines, they can go ahead with inoculation. We’re not saying we’re going to jump [the line]. The companies have the right who they choose to vaccinate after all,” added Marcial.
The PBA, in a press briefing earlier this month, said that while the vaccines are not contingent on the season’s start, it should make seeking clearances easier.
Private sector vaccines
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases had put together an elaborate guideline for sports during the pandemic. Professional sports are allowed, but under myriad conditions. This has led the PBA to salvage what’s left of its 2020 season inside a bio-secure but pricey environment in Clark Freeport, where Ginebra emerged victorious.
The national government only allowed the private sector to purchase vaccines at will on March 29. And like many companies, San Miguel Corp.’s (SMC) orders have encountered delays.
“We’ve been told that there are some coming this May,” said Chua, who also serves as SMC’s sports director.
According to Chua, the PBA is simply borrowing from the national government.
“We were wondering if maybe when the national government’s supplies arrive, we could get from there. And we’d just return them once our own supplies arrive.”
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