PBA catches a break

Country’s hosting of FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers gets nod, too

THE Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) push to start its delayed Season 46 caught a break late last week when it got government approval to have its member teams resume practices.

In an announcement made on Friday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), through Resolution No. 114, gave the go-ahead on the planned workouts of PBA teams in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) or moderate GCQ setup.

Also approved was the country’s hosting of the third window of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asia Cup Qualifiers in June in a “bubble” setting at Clark City in Angeles, Pampanga.

In his online media briefing on Friday, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said the league welcomes the development as it serves as a prelude to the possible start of their new season in the next few weeks.

The league chief said he will meet with players and team officials this week to discuss the PBA’s protocols for the return to practices, including 5-on-5 scrimmages, which they hope to start at least by May 18.

Mr. Marcial is also set to meet with Games and Amusements Board (GAB) Chairman Baham Mitra to discuss the protocols in line with the Joint Administrative Order crafted by GAB along with the Philippine Sports Commission and Department of Health.

The PBA has short-listed Batangas City as a possible practice destination for teams since the area is under GCQ.

Mr. Marcial and his team have already inspected and approved the Batangas City Coliseum, Batangas State University Gym and the Lyceum-Batangas Gym as training venues.

Some teams, meanwhile, have made it known that they plan to trek North for their training.

But the PBA is not closing its doors on having the training’s resumption inside the National Capital Region, especially if the quarantine status in the NCR and the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna is downgraded to GCQ.

The Greater Manila Area is still currently under a Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) setup after a spike in coronavirus cases recently.

The MECQ status is in effect until May 14 and subject for reevaluation.

“It’s great news for us that we’re now allowed to return to practices. We’re studying our options and waiting for further developments as we move forward,” Mr. Marcial said.

The PBA is set to impose stricter guidelines as it resumes activities to ensure their successful conduct leading to the season start.

The guidelines cover among other things the needed swab tests for all concerned and orderly scheduling of practices.

Meanwhile, PBA governor Alfrancis Chua of Barangay Ginebra shared that they are now looking at June 15 as the start of Season 46 while also enjoining all members of the league to do their part in making the return to practices a success.

“After being given the approval to return to practice, it’s now our turn to show that we can hold activities in a safe manner to prove that it can be done and we can stage our new season,” said Mr. Chua in Filipino on The Chasedown program on Saturday.

Mr. Chua was with Mr. Marcial in a meeting with government officials two weeks ago where they presented the PBA’s proposal for the staging of Season 46.

The league was originally targeting to start its new season on April 18 until the surge in coronavirus cases in the country forced its deferment.

In another development, the IATF-EID approved the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ (SBP) hosting of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers third window from June 16 to 20 in Clark.

The event will be staged in a bubble setting and conducted under strict health and safety protocols.

Game venue will be the Angeles University Foundation Sports & Cultural Center with Quest Hotel serving as the teams’ home.

Three groups are set to see action in the window, including Group A, which has the Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand.

“We’re looking forward to hosting our friends from Groups A, B and C and showing the kind of hospitality that the Philippines is known for,” said SBP President Al Panlilio in a statement.

Adding, “The SBP knows that Filipino basketball fans have waited for a long time for this and we’re just as excited as they are to have international basketball in our country again.” — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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