Green light for PBA to stage practices; Go-signal also given to Fiba Asia Cup Qualifying | Inquirer Sports
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Green light for PBA to stage practices; Go-signal also given to Fiba Asia Cup Qualifying

/ 05:20 AM May 08, 2021

The PBA on Friday secured the national government’s nod to conduct practices in Batangas City, keeping alive hopes that its 46th Season could open in June and possibly hold two conferences.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said he is set to have another sit-down with representatives of all 12 member teams to iron out health protocols and logistical concerns, before finally kicking off full-on scrimmages that could start on May 18 at the earliest in areas that will be under modified general community quarantine.

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“It is important for the scrimmages to be free of hitches, so we can show the authorities we can go on with the official games,” Marcial said in a virtual press briefing, just hours after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement, which came under the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF) Resolution No. 114.

Also securing clearance under the same IATF resolution is the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ (SBP) bid to host the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup Qualifiers, which will be held in a bio-secure setup in Clark Freeport.

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Gilas Pilipinas, which will be parading an all-cadet lineup, only needs to win one of its two matches with South Korea and with Indonesia to clinch a spot in the continental meet that will be held in Jakarta in August.

Two tournaments

“The [national federation]has been working with Fiba, government agencies and other partners to ensure a successful and, more importantly, a safe bubble,” SBP president Al Panlilio said in a statement.

This development should afford Asia’s pioneering league at least a mid-year opening for its season and give fans at least two tournaments to watch at a time where sports events remain shuttered. It also would not put the Nationals’ preparations to waste as Gilas has been practicing for months now.

Marcial said that all three venues in Batangas City, his hometown, were up to league standards following an ocular inspection earlier in the day. PBA teams can use wooden courts at Batangas City Coliseum, Lyceum of the Philippines in Batangas and Batangas State University on a rotation basis, with usage frequency still to be determined.

“Each of the venues can accommodate three to four teams [a day],” said Marcial. “I’m good with the three we’ve mentioned. And it’s not like teams will be practicing there daily. They’ll like train there every other day of just thrice a week.”

Stricter protocols

The PBA will be adopting an improved set of protocols, according to Marcial, among them a new testing scheme that will require players, coaches and staff to undergo testing seven days prior and then another screening two days before they hold practice sessions in the town. Clubs are required to undergo screening every 10 days once scrimmages begin.

The commissioner hopes to stage practices for at least a month before reaching out to the national government for clearance to proceed with the games.

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Marcial said the league can always revert to its conventional ways once quarantine restrictions in the capital relax. He said Ynares Gym in Pasig City and Ynares Center in Antipolo City remain as prospective venues.

Around seven teams are taking up the PBA’s offer to train in Batangas City. TNT, NLEX and Meralco are looking to hold training camps “in the north,” according to Marcial.

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TAGS: 46th season, Asia Cup Qualifying, Basketball, PBA, Willie Marcial
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