Nine more teams resume practice, set up camp in Batangas
Nine Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) teams finally returned to group practices on Thursday, a milestone that could lead to the restoration of the full salaries of players, coaches and other league personnel and clear a path to the staging of the PBA’s 46th season.
Reigning Philippine Cup champion Barangay Ginebra, NorthPort, Terrafirma, Magnolia, Phoenix, San Miguel Beer, Rain or Shine, Alaska and Blackwater all returned to practice, PBA deputy commissioner Eric Castro told the Inquirer, with all squads availing of the league-negotiated option of training in Batangas province.
Two other teams, Meralco and TNT, had earlier traveled up north to Laoag City to set up their camps there.
That leaves NLEX as the only team still idle, although the Road Warriors are said to be heading to coach Yeng Guiao’s home province of Pampanga to hod their training there.
“We were advised that [they are pushing through],” Castro said. “But we still don’t know when they’ll start.”
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial had earlier said that the league would restore full salaries of affected league personnel once all teams have started scrimmaging. The league imposed a 20-percent pay cut on players, coaches and officials as a money-saving measure.
Marcial had also said that having all teams scrimmaging would allow the league to plot the opening of the league’s 46th Season.
“We’re looking sometime right after the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup qualifiers. Maybe around June 25,” he told the Inquirer in a previous interview.
Teams were forced outside Metro Manila after the PBA got clarification from the government that scrimmaging was still not allowed in the National Capital Region and four nearby provinces because there were heightened restrictions imposed along with the downgrade of the lockdown level to general community quarantine (GCQ).
Health and government officials had earlier assured the league that a straight-up GCQ lockdown would allow the teams to return to their training facilities in the metropolis provided they get permits from their local governments.
The nine teams in Batangas City are to adapt a closed-circuit setup, in compliance with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ standards.
The Bolts, who began training in Laoag City on Monday, are planning to spend 10 days there, according to coach Norman Black.
Last year’s Philippine Cup finalists Tropang Giga, meanwhile, hope to stay there until the end of the month.