NLEX coach Yeng Guiao has no choice but to agree with the PBA’s decision to cancel its games but would have preferred another option – that of the league continuing to play under a “controlled environment.”
“Of course, we will defer to the wisdom of the Board and the commissioner,” the veteran tactician told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.
“Siyempre merong mas malaking interes ang involved d’yan. So we defer even if we feel na handang-handa na kaming maglaro,” added Guiao. “There are other priorities. We accept that.”
Commissioner Willie Marcial announced last Wednesday the board decision to cancel all PBA activities, primarily the Philippine Cup and D-League games, in light of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Marcial said the PBA considered its paramount duty and responsibility to ensure the health and safety of the fans, players, teams, officials and staff.
The first to be affected by the decision was the twin-bill last Wednesday pitting TNT against Phoenix and NLEX against NorthPort.
For Guiao, however, the better option would be to play in a venue devoid of paying fans, something the PBA Board considered but ultimately thumbed down since 300 to 400 people would still be involved even if the games are held behind closed doors.
Guiao begged to differ, saying: “’Yung 300 to 400 people na iyon iba iyon sa audience. Kasi iyung audience wala kang control. Di mo alam kung saan nanggaling iyon, di mo alam kung ano’ng ginawa noon. Ngayon, iyung 300to 400 na tao, sabihin mo na 50 iyung sa team ko, 50 sa kalaban, p’wede iyon kasi binigyan nila ng (health) protocol per team.
“So iyung team ko, pati na ng kabila, you can have the assurance na they’ve gone through a certain protocol. Yung sa media siyempre meron din kayong protocol so dadaan din kayo doon. (Television coveror) TV5 kung 100 sila meron ding ganoon. ‘Yung PBA office under control din iyan, p’wede mong i-pa-check iyan, pag-alcoholin ‘yan. You have that control over 300-400 people. That is a controlled environment where there is somebody who is always responsible for that group.
“Ang hindi mo controlled ‘yung audience. But since yung audience tinanggal mo na, so everything that you will now place in the venue, pati venue staff sasabihan mo na, ‘We have a health protocol, sumunod kayo,’, now you can play under a controlled environment.”
That move, according to Guiao, would not only lessen concerns about the PBA contributing to the spread of the virus, but also address the fans’ craving for a safer form of recreation.
“So kumbaga ma-mi-mitigate mo ‘yung health risk, at the same time it is acceptable to the public. Kumbaga, two birds with one stone. You have the health protocol since you’re keeping everybody safe, at the same time, from the public relations point of view, you kept the public safe and p’wede silang manood sa TV.”
There are other benefits to playing behind closed doors, Guiao added.
“Iyong audience mo sa TV at sa livestream more than compensates for the people who are not in the stadium. Kasi gustong manood ng tao, wala silang entertainment. Di makapunta ng mall, di makapanood ng sine. E di ang laki ng audience mo,” offered Guiao.
“ Kasi nga, ang mga tao walang recreation. Nasa bahay, di makapasyal. E di manood kayo ng PBA.”
As it is, NLEX could now only conduct practices, in a gym the Road Warriors would ensure is sanitized, while waiting for the suspension to be lifted.
“ Practices pa rin, pero tomorrow we will put into place our protocol in cooperation with our (team) doctor. Pero ang unang-una diyan, sasabihin ng doktor, ‘Kung may nararamdaman na kayong flu-like symptoms, stay at home.’”