By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is currently reevaluating its thrust for the league’s Season 46 after its initial plans were derailed by the changing conditions amid the pandemic.
Speaking in an online press briefing on Tuesday, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial and Vice-Chairman Bobby Rosales shared that the league is revisiting its tack for its new season, which was supposed to start last April 18.
Ongoing discussions, the officials said, circle around how the PBA can operate as effectively as possible during these trying times, including concerns on availing vaccines, the extent of the offering it will come out with, and measures related to the financials of the entire PBA family.
“The first order of the day is for the whole PBA family to be vaccinated,” said Mr. Rosales in reiterating now that vaccination figures prominently in the league’s push moving forward.
The PBA official representing the Terrafirma team said getting everybody in the league vaccinated will give the PBA more stability and flexibility in charting its path for the new season.
The league said vaccine supply is not going to be much of a problem since the group of sports patron Manny V. Pangilinan and the San Miguel Corporation, both part of the PBA family, have committed to provide jabs for the league.
It also has reached out to the Philippine Red Cross.
Mr. Rosales said the question really is when they can get vaccinated since it is only now that vaccine supplies are coming in.
The PBA is hopeful that vaccines for it can come in May or June, but underscored that it will not jump the line in receiving vaccinations.
After the majority of its members have been inoculated, the league will then coordinate with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) for guidance in the next moves it will make.
Mr. Marcial, meanwhile, said they are targeting to start Season 46 at least by June so that they can still push through with their initial plan of offering two conferences this season.
The PBA in March said it was looking to be busier this year with two conferences — All-Filipino and import-laden Governors’ Cup — running for 10 months to give fans more basketball action.
This will be in contrast from last year where the league only held one conference because of the pandemic.
A closed-circuit setup with the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, Rizal, as venue, is being planned for the season, where the movements of participants are confined to home-gym-home.
Another “bubble” similar to that staged in Clark, Pampanga, in 2020 is also an option, the league said, with Ilocos Norte reaching out to host the PBA under such a setting.
The planned 3×3 tournament running alongside the five-a-side competition is still a go but being recalibrated as for its makeup and schedule.
To date, 16 teams are expected to see action in the 3×3 tournament, composed majority of the existing PBA squads and a number of guest teams.
Mr. Marcial also shared that the league will be imposing a temporary 20% salary cut to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the financials of the league.
Affected will be the PBA employees, players, coaches, managers, assistant managers, and other personnel. Utility workers, however, are not included.
PBA employees will see cuts on their salaries on their payroll beginning April 25 while for the teams, it will start in May.
Mr. Marcial said the cuts are the league’s share in helping team owners who have been patient and generous in continuing to look after their members and support the PBA during these difficult times.
“It’s about time that we give back to the teams and team owners. They have supported us for 16 months, not cutting our salaries, protecting the players. This is our small way of helping them,” said the PBA chief.
Mr. Marcial said the board of governors in unison “appreciated” the gesture while the decision was already communicated to all concerned.
The league official, however, was quick to say that the salary cuts will only be in effect as the league awaits to return to play. Once teams are allowed to do scrimmages again, the salaries will be reverted to their normal rates.