PBA players have all what they need to return to practice, but Commissioner Willie Marcial is still keeping his fingers crossed.
“Apat na beses na tayong naudlot kaya ayoko sanang magbigay ng exact date,” Marcial told Malaya-Business Insight.
“Pero sana, talagang matuloy na tayo (on) Aug. 25,” he added.
President Duterte announced last Monday night that National Capital Region and other nearby provinces are set to return to a more relaxed GCQ starting today.
This paves the way for the pro players to start their long-awaited and oft-delayed return to the practice gyms for non-contact workouts and conditioning starting next Tuesday.
But first, the players must undergo the PBA-mandated swab tests at the Makati Medical Center on Aug. 20 and 21.
Of the 12 teams, the three under the San Miguel Corp. umbrella would have their tests done at the government-approved SMC facilities.
“Basta pumasok na lahat ng resulta sabay-sabay sila, lahat ng teams, mag-i-start ng practice,” said Marcial.
Only with the test results completely in could Marcial breathe a little easier. “Sana walang mag-positive kahit sino sa mga players,” he said.
“Kasi kapag may-nag-positive baka ma-delay conditioning ng mga kasama niyang naka-contact niya so buong team apektado,” added Marcial. “Kasi kailangan silang i-quarantine lahat, ‘yung mga nagka-contact, bago umulit ng proseso ng test.”
The practice sessions were actually set to commence earlier this month after the PBA received a copy of the joint administrative order prepared and signed by the PSC, DOH and GAB and approved by the IATF.
The PBA, on hold since March 11, had earlier eyed the start of non-contact practices for its players July 21 but was forced to hold it off when the JAO allowing such reached its office only last July 27.
Then came word from the Makati Med that it could only accommodate the PBA players only in early August, meaning the start of their practices was pushed back to Aug. 10 or 11.
The latest delay came when Metro Manila and its environs were placed under a restrictive ECQ from Aug. 4-18 due to the rising number of COVID cases in said areas.
This time, however, it seems there is no stopping the PBA and other pro leagues from returning to practice, limited to only four participants per session and to be held under strict health protocols outlined in the JAO.