IATF OK for gyms fires up hope of PBA opening this month | Inquirer Sports
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IATF OK for gyms fires up hope of PBA opening this month

/ 05:20 AM June 12, 2021

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) welcomed the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF) move on Friday allowing gyms to operate at limited capacity.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial expressed his excitement, telling the Inquirer later that afternoon: “It’s a sign that the country’s moving closer towards reopening.”

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If anything, the relaxation, which came under the IATF’s resolution dated June 10, indicates that the PBA remains on pace for a late-June or early-July season opening.

Twelve of the league’s member teams have been training hitch-free for nearly a month now. Nine teams have taken up the PBA’s closed-circuit scheme in Batangas City, while corporate siblings TNT, NLEX and Meralco have pitched bubble camps in towns father up north.

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With the IATF’s announcement, teams can now return to their default home courts in Metro Manila, granted they only hold stripped-down, cluster practices, and their respective gyms secure safety seal certifications now required by the government.

This is why Marcial would rather wait for June 15 before making his next move.

“We’ve long secured the Task Force’s signal to hold scrimmages. So I’d rather just wait for a [classification] downgrade because that would be much easier for all of us,” he said.

“What I am sure we intend to do soon, however, is to consult with the [Games and Amusements Board], the [Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Task Force for guidance for our new season,” he added.

Marcial bared last week that the PBA leadership is eyeing to stage the games at either Ynares Center in Antipolo City or the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Meanwhile, the Japanese B.League has yet to respond to the PBA’s letter addressing Kiefer Ravena’s contractual situation.

“We’ve reached out to the league’s president Shinji Shimada. Although we have not heard from him yet,” Marcial said. “I’ve already talked to Kiefer after Saturday’s press briefing, told him about the Board’s decision, and he said ‘OK po.’”

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The Shiga Lakestars, in a surprise announcement last June 2, said that it has signed the NLEX playmaker as an Asian import for the upcoming B.League season.

Two days later, the PBA, through a hastily-arranged press briefing, officially thumbed down Ravena’s bid to play in Japan. Ravena has a live contract with NLEX until 2023. INQ

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TAGS: Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF), PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, Philippine Basketball Association (PBA)
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