Marcial praying virus-free practices enough to get IATF okay for 46th season
Philippine Basketball Association commissioner Willie Marcial continues to go about all his chores, planning for the 46th Season like it will surely be held. Most of all, he spends a huge chunk of his day praying that everything runs smoothly during practices of all 12 teams in the provinces where they’re at.
“That’s because smooth practices will give me a reason to ask the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) for the permission for us to open our season,” Marcial told the Inquirer over the phone on Tuesday afternoon. “That’s why I keep on hoping—and praying—that things turn out well.”
Several teams are in Batangas City, one is in Pampanga and two are way up north in Ilocos Norte holding camps as the PBA is now getting ready for an opening either in the last week of June or the first week of July.
That is, if everything runs well in camp and no player, coach or member of any of the team’s staff, will be infected with COVID-19 and spreads the virus within their respective teams.
“That is what we are trying to avoid,” Marcial said. “We want to show that we can run effective training camps for all our teams and that we can strictly follow all health protocols to make our camps safe.”
The 46th Season was supposed to start on April 9 but a spike in cases all over the country prompted a lockdown in the National Capital Region and four nearby provinces, which effectively shuttered all league activities.
The government has since granted permission for pro basketball to be played—in a way—with practices for PBA teams in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) approved while also giving the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas the go-signal to stage the Fiba Asia Cup Qualifying window late next month in a bubble in Clark, Pampanga province.
NCR and the four nearby provinces are still under “heightened” GCQ, which prompted the teams to open camp in Batangas, Pampanga and Ilocos.
Marcial still believes that the PBA can play two conferences with what is left of the year if they can open on the latest target dates.
Last season, the PBA was able to play the Philippine Cup in the same bubble where the Asia Cup window will be played, but the league spent more than P65 million for that.
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