Everybody anxious as players return to workouts

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    THERE are still some players wary of returning to gym workouts next week in preparation for the possibility of the PBA resuming the season amidst the lingering coronavirus threat.

    None is more anxious than Commissioner Willie Marcial.

    “Mas balisa ako,” Marcial told Malaya-Business Insight.

    “Practice pa lang kinakabahan na ako, lalo na kapag pinayagan tayong mag-scrimmage and then talagang laro na,” added Marcial.

    The possibility of the PBA salvaging at least the Philippine Cup became a likely scenario when the IATF allowed small groups of players to return to the gyms for non-contact conditioning under stringent safety protocols.

    The practices start either on Monday or Wednesday next week and Marcial is set to write another letter of request to the IATF next month for 5-on-5, full-contact scrimmages.
    Should the government agency give its green light, the PBA hopes to resume the Philippine Cup by September at the earliest and mid-October at the latest.

    Marcial hopes everything goes according to plan. “Ang malaking susi dito walang mag-positive,” he said.

    Marcial also said the safety measures the PBA, in coordination with the DOH, GAB and IATF, is putting in place in practices should help allay the fears of some players regarding the pandemic that has so far claimed the lives of more than 1,600 Filipinos out of the close to 60,000 positive cases as of last Tuesday.

    “Kailangan maibalik muna natin ang kumpiyansa ng mga players kasi ang dami pa ring takot,” said Marcial, who talked to the players last month and to the coaches and team managers last Friday.

    The coming format for practices is strict enough as it is.

    Only four players, a trainer and a safety officer will be allowed at the practice facility at any given time. Hospital-standard sanitation of the gym will be conducted after each batch and all will have to undergo regularly scheduled swab tests before and during sessions.

    Marcial will closely monitor the progress of the practices and is ready for any scenario as well as coming up with new and better protocols that he will include in the new letter to the IATF.

    “Ang kainaman ng sa atin, by cluster,” Marcial said in last Tuesday’s PSA Forum webcast.

    “Titingnan natin first batch, (kung) tatlo positive doon, bawal na silang mag-practice. ‘Yung ibang batches meron, tigil din sila. Ibang batches tuloy pa rin. Pero kung lahat ng batches merong positive titigil tayo. Need natin ma-kontrol lang ‘yung cluster.”

    The worst case scenario for Marcial is massive infection.

    “Kapag pumutok ito, patay tayo,” he said.