PBA readies different paths to Season 46
The government’s announcement of lockdown protocols on Friday will dictate the path the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will take on its way to staging its 46th Season, and the league’s top official wants to know each team’s plans for scrimmages as soon as possible.
“Just like everyone—the teams and players—we’re all waiting,” PBA commissioner Willie Marcial told the Inquirer in Filipino over the phone on Thursday.
The government will decide on Friday whether it keeps or relaxes quarantine restrictions on the capital and several neighboring provinces. That decision will guide the league on how its teams can resume practices, which in turn will direct how and when the next season will get going.
Metro Manila, along with Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal—collectively known as “National Capital Region Plus”—are currently under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ), which prohibits group training among professional sports teams.
The PBA has already secured permission from the government for teams to hold practices in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ), and has also worked out a deal for teams to practice in Batangas City just in case Metro Manila will remain under MECQ.
“I’m pretty sure that decisions will be made soon. We’re expecting teams to finally lay down their plans,” the league chief said.
While the PBA was given the go-signal to have its teams hold practices under GCQ, doing so in Metro Manila would require permits from the local government their training facilities are located in. With its deal with Batangas City in place, the PBA can have teams practice there while awaiting those permits.
“I was told that there are two to four teams who will try to avail themselves of the Batangas option, and then after they’re able to secure permission from their local government, they’d go back to practicing in Manila,” Marcial said.
The commissioner said among the interested teams were Blackwater, Rain or Shine, Phoenix and Alaska. However, none of the teams have submitted a detailed proposal yet regarding their plans.
Marcial expects those plans to come in after the government announces lockdown protocols on Friday.
The commissioner said that he already spoke with Games and Amusements Board chair Abraham Mitra, and is expecting the agency’s official nod also by Friday.
Whatever direction the teams take, Marcial is confident that the PBA is ready to successfully hold scrimmages and use the blueprint of that success as the basis of staging the 46th Season without the need for a bubble.
“The teams really have to be extra cautious [whatever the scenarios are],” he said. “The success of [this bid] depends on them.”
“If we can show the government that we’re doing well with scrimmages, maybe we can go on with our official games,” he added.
Marcial also acknowledged the threat of the new coronavirus variant from India which has been detected in two cases last Tuesday.
“If lockdowns are ordered, there’s pretty much nothing that we can do,” he said. “I just hope it doesn’t come to that.”
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