By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
FINISHING the ongoing tournament bubble in Clark City in Pampanga is still primary for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) at the moment, but it has also started turning its attention to what is to be done next season.
With the end to the coronavirus pandemic not yet imminent, the league said it is carefully evaluating its options for its Season 46 in 2021, angling to come up with a plan that would work well for the PBA across all fronts.
“We’re open to a lot of possibilities. We are studying all of them,” said PBA commissioner Willie Marcial in his recent appearance on the Power & Play with Noli Eala radio program.
“We are preparing if there is a vaccine already, if fans can be allowed back. We are looking at the situation if it will be GCQ (General Community Quarantine) or MGCQ (Modified General Community Quarantine) in places we will play in, particularly Manila. Of course, economics. A bubble is very expensive, especially if you have three conferences. So we are studying it very carefully,” he added.
For its ongoing bubble, which began in October and where participants are holed up in one location for the duration of the tournament and shuttled to and from the hotel and the playing venue, the PBA said it has costed it P65 million.
Mr. Marcial went on to say that they are following closely the moves of the National Basketball Association (NBA), which successfully held its own bubble in Orlando, Florida, from July to October and is set to begin its new season later this month.
“We followed the NBA in what they did with their bubble, and we are looking at them now as they prepare to start a new season. Good thing, we are in coordination with the NBA, on what its protocols are and maybe we can use them as well,” the PBA chief said.
Last week, the PBA board had a meeting and set the possible start of next season in April.
Meanwhile, the PBA said in lieu of the traditional most valuable player and rookie of the year honors, it will hand out a set of special awards to players who did well in the bubble tournament.
The Best Player of the Conference (BPC) and Outstanding Rookie awards will be given to players in the pandemic-hit season of the PBA, where it was only able to stage a single conference.
Also to be awarded are spots in the Special Team honors, and the Most Improved Player and Sportsmanship awards.
TNT’s Ray Parks leads the statistical race, putting him in prime position to take the top BPC award.
At the end of the semifinals, Mr. Parks, son of legendary PBA import Bobby, raised his total statistical points (SP) to 38.3 with averages of 22.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
Coming in second was comebacking Phoenix Super LPG forward Calvin Abueva (37.1 SPs), followed by league top scorer CJ Perez (35.7) of Terrafirma.
Erstwhile SP leader Matthew Wright of Phoenix, who got injured in the early goings of the semifinals, slid to fourth with 35.6 points, with Northport’s Christian Standhardinger rounding out the top five with 34.6 SPs.
The awards are to be handed out in a special virtual awards night in January.
The league also said the 2021 PBA Rookie Draft is set to happen on March 14, with application forms available beginning today, Dec. 7.