PBA looking not only to open season but also put fans back in stands | Inquirer Sports
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CHASING A DREAM

PBA looking not only to open season but also put fans back in stands

By: - Reporter / @BLozadaINQ
/ 05:20 AM June 27, 2021

FILE – Smart Araneta Coliseum. Contributed photo by Nuki Sabio

The numbers were encouraging enough for Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) commissioner Willie Marcial.

“We had successful scrimmages of the teams outside of NCR (National Capital Region),” Marcial told Inquirer’s SportsIQ in Filipino, adding the league had been conducting thorough testing, “and out of the 360 players there were only five who tested positive.”

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Two of those positive tests were asymptomatic, with the other three exhibiting mild symptoms. All have recovered.

Those numbers gave the league chief optimism that it can convince the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to give the PBA its approval to hold its 46th season.League officials will meet with the government body early in July to ask for the green light to kick off the season that same month.

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Marcial is hoping a little piece of history will sway the government authorities.

“We’ll present to the task force … the success of the bubble in Clark,” he said.

With all that data, the PBA is actually swinging for the fences: Not only is the league looking to hold two conferences for the next season, it is also looking to put fans back in the stands.Vaccination program

The league’s plan is anchored on the success of the government’s vaccination program.“If you’re vaccinated then you may enter the venue; you just have to present their vaccination cards. Or, if we already have those vaccine passports, then [fans] can show it [to enter coliseums],” said Marcial.

“We could not even dream of this before, but now I am.”

The commissioner doesn’t expect to fill playing venues to the brim but the hope is that there will be safe cheering sections soon.

He added that the current landscape in Metro Manila, which is under general community quarantine, has to hold up for them to hold the season and subsequently allow fans.

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“Right now, we’re okay,” said Marcial. “But once the cases spike then it’s over. That’s why I always tell the players to be careful.”

He also wants the league to be a blueprint of safety amid the coronavirus pandemic, with players taking the lead in showing how everyone can stay safe.

“[T]he players, they were really disciplined with our home-gym-home mandate during their scrimmages. The players can discipline themselves and the coaches can also guide their players,” Marcial said.

The commissioner said he expects a majority of players to be vaccinated by July, making it easier for the league to convince the government to allow it to operate.

“Once [the players are] vaccinated then those are bonus points for us,” said Marcial.

The PBA is planning to hold two conferences this season and the league office is looking at Ynares Center in Antipolo and Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig as possible venues.

Marcial said he has already talked with former Antipolo mayor Jun Ynares and will have a conversation with Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto on the use of the arenas. INQ

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TAGS: Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Willie Marcial
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