With NCR now under GCQ, PBA squads scramble for permits to begin scrimmaging in metro
Some Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) teams have began scrambling to secure clearance from their respective local government units (LGUs) following the national government’s decision to relax quarantine restrictions in the National Capital Region (NCR).
“We’re ecstatic with the news about [Metro Manila] moving to [general community quarantine],” Alaska head coach Jeff Cariaso told the Inquirer on Friday.
“We are currently working on the clearance from Mandaluyong City so we can begin [as soon as possible],” he added.
The league is eager to send its team to practices as soon as possible, as the success of holding scrimmages will dictate how soon the PBA can begin its 46th season.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial is hopeful all teams can begin scrimmaging by May 20 to keep the league on track for a June opening.
In the event teams fail to secure permission from the local governments where their practice facilities are located, they will have the option of traveling to Batangas province to start preparations there until they are cleared to practice in Metro Manila.
“We might still go to Batangas next week,” said Topex Robinson, coach of the Phoenix Fuel Masters, whose training base is in Pasig City. The team is currently awaiting the result of its request to practice at Upper Deck court in Pasig.
The Palace announced late Thursday night that it will downgrade the lockdown level of Metro Manila and four neighboring provinces to general community quarantine (GCQ), beginning May 15. The latest Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases resolution now allows PBA teams to conduct full-on scrimmages in areas under GCQ.
The announcement has given PBA’s ball clubs the option of not having to drive all the way to Batangas City to begin training for the coming season—an alternative Marcial negotiated prior to the relaxing of quarantine restrictions in the metropolis.
Such a development was also welcomed by coach Nash Racela, whose Blackwater team trains at Aero Center in Quezon City.
“We hope to be cleared by Monday. So we’re good to go for Tuesday if ever,” he said.
And like Robinson, Racela is not ruling out the Batangas option just in case the Quezon City government thumbs down their bid.
The Batangas City option will utilize three sites: Batangas Coliseum, Batangas State University and the Lyceum of the Philippines in Batangas.
But some ballclubs would rather stay close to home if possible.
“[Gatorade Hoops] is home for us. And in [Alaska’s] case, [the gym is] private. No other teams practice there,” said Cariaso.“The team will have its second swab test … on Tuesday. Our goal is to be on the court on Thursday at the latest,” he added.
There are some teams that considered training farther from NCR, which remains as the COVID-19 hotspot in the country.
Meralco is looking to set up camp in Laoag, Ilocos Norte province, in the event that it does not get approval from the Pasig City local government to hold practices at the Meralco compound.
“We are still awaiting final clearance from LGU in Pasig. If allowed, we may opt to stay and practice in Meralco,” Bolts team manager Paolo Trillo said in a message.
“But if we can’t get clearance, we’ll proceed with our trip to Ilocos,” he added.
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