Ginebra raring to hit court as PBA gets green light to stage 46th Season | Inquirer Sports
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Ginebra raring to hit court as PBA gets green light to stage 46th Season

/ 05:25 AM July 10, 2021
Barangay Ginebra

FILE – Barangay Ginebra is the PBA Philippine Cup champion. PBA IMAGES

Tim Cone said that as much as his wards have been enthusiastically putting in a lot of work in practice, the lack of competitive matches continues to gnaw at them.

“I think our players are tired of practicing and playing against themselves,” the Barangay Ginebra coach said in a text message on Friday. “They’re ready to play some games!”

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They will finally get to do so.

The Gin Kings will have a shot at defending their Philippine Cup trophy after the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) on Friday finally got the green light to hold its 46th Season.

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The PBA can start the season on July 16. The Games and Amusements Board said that Asia’s pioneering pro league was already cleared to open after a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ technical working group last Thursday.

“It’s about time,” Cone said. “We’ve been waiting for word for six months.”

Cone wasn’t the only one waiting. And his team isn’t the only one prepared.

“I’ve talked to some teams in the two weeks ago and they’ve been telling me they’re ready to play,” PBA chief Willie Marcial said with a smile during a virtual press conference.

“We have been waiting all year and it’s now right around the corner,” said Alaska mentor Jeff Cariaso. “It’s time to showcase what we all have been preparing for. “The PBA will kick off the season at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City at 11 a.m., with a “simple” ceremony and with two conferences in mind.

The plan, Marcial said, is to stack matches in each of the three weekly playdates: Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The condensed schedule will run for about a month before it eases into regular doubleheaders.

“We’re going with the usual tournament format: Single round-robin, a quarterfinal [round], and a best-of-seven semifinals and finals,” Marcial added.

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PBA delegates will be subject to COVID-19 screening three days prior to the season, which will employ a closed-circuit (home-gym-home) setup. The league will be conducting tests every 10 days and mete out heavy-handed sanctions to erring individuals.

And to ensure the continued safety of the games, the league is also employing a scheduled entry and exit system for teams. Access will remain exclusive only to the PBA delegation and five members of the press, who will be replaced every 10 days.

Everyone’s movement will be tracked via a phone app to ensure no one strays from the closed-circuit system.

Up next for Marcial is to seek permission to conduct tune-up games—an idea floated by several team governors—in locations with relaxed quarantine restrictions.

“I’m just waiting for the [amended Joint Administrative Order]. Maybe we can do that outside [Metro Manila],” said Marcial.

He added that the league is also hoping to adorn the 46th season with something resembling the old times, like holding a match on Christmas Day. However, that remains up for discussion, as with the import situation for the second tournament.

“We hope to be done by January,” Marcial said.

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