PBA to play sooner than later?
MANILA, Philippines — The PBA may restart its suspended 45th season sooner than expected if the IATF gives its go-signal once Metro Manila is placed under modified GCQ as commissioner Willie Marcial yesterday assured that the pro league will be ready to resume the Philippine Cup this year with strict health and safety protocols.
Games and Amusements Board chairman Baham Mitra said the other day that the IATF has called for a meeting on Thursday to discuss the possibility of restarting pro sports. Mitra submitted a restart proposal to the IATF early this month and it included the PBA’s step-by-step program from limited practices to playing games in a “bubble” environment with strict protocols. Mitra also requested clarification if under modified GCQ, the IATF will allow sporting events like basketball, boxing, muay thai, football and mixed martial arts to be held with spectators limited to 50 percent of the venue seating capacity.
“The first step is to open up practices with no scrimmages and limited to six participants for every 45-minute or one-hour session, four players, one health officer and a trainer,” said Marcial. “Ang objective ay magpa-kondisyon mga players at mabigyan sila ng confidence to get back sa court. Pag nasa modified GCQ na tayo, baka payagan na ng IATF magkaroon ng games. Kung by July mayroon ng linaw, tatawag tayo ng emergency PBA Board of Governors meeting to discuss ang next step. Possible na hindi na natin hintayin ang August to decide kelan ituloy ang season. With IATF’s approval, pwede tayong mag-restart sa September.”
Last Tuesday, Marcial had a dialogue with player representatives from all 12 teams at the viewing room of the PBA office in Libis. Among the players who attended were LA Tenorio of Ginebra, Marc Pingris of Magnolia, KG Canaleta of Blackwater, Sean Anthony of NorthPort, Matthew Wright of Phoenix, Jayson Castro of TNT, Jvee Casio of Alaska, Asi Taulava of NLEX, Reynel Hugnatan of Meralco, CJ Perez of Terra Firma, Chris Ross of San Miguel Beer and Beau Belga of Rain or Shine. The meeting took 2 1/2 hours and was convened under strict safety protocols, including social distancing.
Marcial and deputy commissioner Eric Castro presented the PBA’s system of operations if and when the IATF approves the restart of practices and games. “Pagkatapos ng kamustahan, pinaliwanag namin sa mga players ang ‘bubble’ concept at ‘closed circuit method,’” said Marcial. “Nilatag namin ang process flow chart kung magkaroon ng positive sa practice or games. In-explain namin ang mga health and safety protocols, disinfection of facilities, testing procedures, lahat. After ng presentation, sila-sila nag-usap for 30 to 40 minutes at kami nina Eric at PBA staff stepped out.”
When the players finished their closed-door meeting, Taulava – acting as spokesman – reported to Marcial that everyone agreed unanimously to the PBA’s protocols to restart practice and games. Marcial thanked the players for their unconditional support. “Sabi nila, they’ll be ready to practice and play anytime the PBA calls,” he said. “Nakakataba ng puso kasi full support sila at appreciate nila yung protocols ng PBA. Alam nila priority ng PBA ang health at safety ng lahat, especially sa kanilang pamilya. Hindi nga kami nakapag-handa ng buffet kasi bawal kaya McDonald’s quarter pounder meal ang merienda namin lahat.”
Marcial said once there is clarity on the IATF’s position, he’ll likely invite the players for another meeting to discuss the implications of the decision. “’Di pa natin alam kung papayagan tayo ituloy ang practice at games,” he said. “Dependa ‘yan sa sitwasyon at basa ng gobyerno. Whatever is the decision, kung tuloy o hindi, malamang tatawag tayo ng another players meeting.”