PBA considers returning North to ride out lockdown
The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is hoping to take refuge in a familiar place as Metro Manila rides out a two-week extreme lockdown.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial told the Inquirer on Friday that the league is looking to resume its Philippine Cup in Pampanga province, the venue of last year’s expensive bubble conference.
This after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) announced in its latest resolution that the league can resume its 46th season granted it’s in areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and/or Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).
Batangas province, home to several PBA clubs during the preseason workouts, was the league’s prime choice for its relocation. But its current quarantine classification—GCQ with heightened restrictions—pretty much nixed that scenario.
That put Pampanga at the forefront. And understandably so, as the province is currently under the much more relaxed MGCQ. On top of that, it already hosted the PBA when it salvaged the remainder of its season last year, so logistical planning should no longer pose that much of a challenge for the league.
The PBA delegation hunkered down in a secure but immensely restrictive setup in Clark Freeport and Angeles City for 72 days. Crowd darling Barangay Ginebra won inside the P65-million project, hoisting a championship like no other.
“We’re currently in talks,” Marcial said when asked about a timeline and details about the relocation.
The league chief said in a previous interview it will need a window of at least four to five days to iron out any hitches in its transfer plan.
“We’ll be needing a kind of buffer to accommodate things like retesting [of players and staff],” he said. “So there will be a reset of sorts.”
In the event that Pampanga also goes under a restrictive lockdown, the league will have to look for another venue once again.
Marcial said the PBA has not considered other locations yet.
The league has played a total of 26 matches since opening shop last July 16. Magnolia is leading the race, unbeaten in four games. The Gin Kings, on the other hand, are in the middle of the pack with a 2-2 card.
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