FIBA qualifiers to cramp up PBA timeline

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    IT SURE looks like the PBA would be hard-pressed just to finish the Philippine Cup.

    Along with the constant snags brought about by the ill effects of the coronavirus pandemic comes reports that the world’s governing body in basketball is planning to hold the delayed windows of the 2021 FIBA Asian Cup qualifiers this November and next February.

    What’s more, should the outbreak remain uncontained by November the games would be played out “in earnest” or practically with little rest for the participants early next year so that the target date of concluding the tournament proper would be met in late August 2021.

    Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chief Al Panlilio could not be contacted for comment yesterday while PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial declined to issue any statement until official notice reaches his office.

    But a PBA insider claimed the pro league is already looking at various options once the reports prove true.

    “Most of the national team members are pros so there’s a big chance the PBA would have to stop action once the players take leave for them to play with Gilas,” said the insider.

    “The PBA already has its next season mapped out, including giving way to the FIBA Asia Cup in August of next year, but must now look at such a scenario (of playing games in February and possibly through April) and mapping out contingency plans.”

    After blowing out Indonesia in its first game the national team still has remaining games against the Indons and groupmates Thailand (two) and South Korea (two).

    Marcial had previously said the next PBA season would start either March or April but his sights are currently focused on finishing what was the traditional season-opening tournament.

    But it now looks like a tough task due to recent developments.

    Starting yesterday Metro Manila reverted back to the modified enhanced community quarantine, pushing back the players’ planned return to the gyms for non-contact workouts and conditioning by two weeks.

    That also means the PBA’s next step of having the teams conduct team scrimmages, should the IATF allow it, for the purpose of getting the players into game-shape within a month will not start until late September.

    Marcial said they will not stop trying.

    “Sisikapin nating habulin,” said Marcial, referring to his target of having actual games played by mid-October at the latest.

    “Pasikip ng pasikip itong timeline natin,” admitted Marcial, “pero hangga’t p’wede nating maisalba itong Philippine Cup titiyagain natin.”

    If the stars all align and the PBA is given the go-signal by the government through the IATF, the tournament which was on hold since March 11 would be finished by late January.

    Given his target date is a must for Marcial, who has previously said any resumption past Oct. 15 would most likely mean the cancellation of the entire season.

    Playing out the Philippine Cup is imperative because at least part of what should have been a landmark 45th season would be salvaged.