PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said the league remains hopeful and committed to have its Season 46 start before the month ends. — PBA IMAGES
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) hopes of starting its new season in the first half of July took a hit as its request to start has yet to be approved by authorities.
While the National Capital Region (NCR) is now under a General Community Quarantine setup with some restrictions, under the guidelines released by the government recently, competition for team sports like basketball, volleyball and football are still not allowed to be held in the area, leaving the PBA with no choice but to wait and continue to make its case.
Training of the teams inside NCR, however, is already allowed, provided it is done in a “bubble” setup.
The PBA is looking to hold two conferences for its Season 46 to give fans more basketball action after being left to settle for only one tournament last year because of the pandemic.
The league plans to hold games at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City and the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City under a closed-circuit setup where participants’ movements are confined to home-gym-home.
A bubble setup, similar to that employed in the lone tournament in 2020 at Clark City, Pampanga, is not a top priority for the league at the moment because of the high cost it entails.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial shared that while their push for the season start hit another speed bump, they remain hopeful and committed to get basketball action going at the soonest possible time.
The league chief said he is set to meet with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) this week to make a presentation and for them to be allowed to proceed with the start of the season before the month ends.
Mr. Marcial said in making their case to the IATF they will be banking on their successful holding of the bubble last year, which was adapted for use by FIBA for the recent Asia Cup Qualifiers in Clark, as well as the smooth flow of the training of the 12 teams in areas outside of Metro Manila.
He will also share the progress of the league’s vaccination program, which Mr. Marcial said is progressing well with almost 95% of the PBA family already vaccinated.
The league’s health and safety protocols will be shared and discussed as well with the IATF, Mr. Marcial said.
Over the weekend, Mr. Marcial met with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos to discuss ways to forge a stronger coordination and cooperation between the two groups during this time of the pandemic.
Mr. Abalos vowed to help the league in its push to start its new season and work with the PBA once given the green light to resume play in Metro Manila.