PBA presents opening case to IATF, hopes to start season this month
The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is now optimistic that it can open its much-delayed 46th Season this month, play two conferences and give this country another sporting event to look forward to until January next year.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial appeared before the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on Wednesday and presented his case on why the PBA should be allowed to open within the month and how it won’t be sacrificing the health and safety of everyone involved in doing so.
“The PBA family—from members of all the teams, staff and the PBA employees—will all be fully-vaccinated before the end of this week,” Marcial told the Inquirer over the phone. “We will not take anything for granted, health-wise, that’s why we worked hard for everyone in the league to be inoculated.”
Having hosted a bubble conference in Pampanga province last year also was a plus in his presentation, according to Marcial, as he was able to point out everything why the league was successful in holding the Philippine Cup at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last October.
So successful was that bubble that Fiba (International Basketball Federation), the world-governing body in the sport, used the same venue and protocols as that of the PBA’s to host the Asia Cup Qualifying window.
Marcial said that should the season open, the PBA will be using a closed-circuit setup where safety measures will be as stringent.
Under the closed-circuit system, league and team personnel will be limited to a home-gym-home routine using an app that will closely monitor everyone’s movements.
Teams have been holding practices in various locations, and Marcial pointed out that they have had close to 99 percent virus-free practices since scrimmages were allowed two months ago.
But while the National Basketball Association and the pro league in China are playing to near capacity crowds, Marcial said, with a heavy heart, that fans will still not be allowed to see the games live, at least in the Philippine Cup where Barangay Ginebra is the defending champion.
“But we will get there,” Marcial said. “This is, after all, the league of our fans and we are doing this for them.” INQ