THE Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) is currently in the process of adjusting its plans for its new season as it continues to be affected by the prevailing conditions with the pandemic.
Speaking at the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes shared the league is assessing the direction it is going to take for its fourth season as initial plans, including traditionally starting its new year on June 12, were rendered not feasible because of the coronavirus situation in the country.
Foremost among the concerns of the league, the MPBL chief said, is securing the approval of government authorities to allow them to resume activities in preparation for opening their new season.
He admitted that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) is being strict and careful in giving the go-ahead to different sports leagues to proceed with coronavirus cases still at a high number.
“We know for a fact that we’re facing so many challenges regarding our application to resume. The IATF has been very strict with its guidelines and it has been challenging on our part. But hopefully, we get approved,” said Mr. Duremdes.
Despite the challenges though, Mr. Duremdes said they remain determined to make things work, more so since at least 19 teams have confirmed their participation when MPBL action resumes.
Among the teams which have expressed their intention to compete is newcomer Negros Occidental.
The MPBL chief went on to say that since a June 12 opening is highly unlikely to happen this year, they are now looking at possibly starting the new season in July or August, hoping that by that time, the coronavirus situation in the country is far better.
They may do another “bubble” tournament in Subic, Zambales, if the need arises, Mr. Duremdes said, so as to safeguard the health and safety of all participants.
“We all know that the place (Subic) is secured and safe. We saw that firsthand when we played there for the championship early this year,” he said, referring to the playoff matches in MPBL’s Lakan Cup played at the Subic Gym which culminated in the Davao Occidental Tigers claiming the title over the San Juan Knights.
The MPBL bubble was not without hiccups however, with the event initially hit with some coronavirus cases but the league was able to work its way out of it to give its pandemic-stalled season a fitting conclusion.
“We just have to be patient with it. But rest assured that we are doing everything we can to start the new season,” Mr. Duremdes assured. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo