Marcial to players: Stay within our ‘bubble’

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    THE PBA has issued a stern reminder to its teams now that they have been given the green light to practice.

    “Wala dapat lalabas sa ‘bubble’ natin,” stressed Commissioner Willie Marcial.  “Bahay, kotse, gym, kotse, bahay lang dapat ang mga players,” added Marcial.  “Kung may dadaanan, bibilhin o kung anuman, kailangan ipaalam sa health officer. Kapag may nararamdaman hindi puwedeng mag-practice.”

    Marcial spoke after Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque announced last Friday that the IATF has allowed practice and conditioning for basketball and football teams, as requested by the PBA and the Philippine Football Federation.

    Roque added the guidelines for training under both general community quarantine and modified GCQ were drafted by the Philippine Sports Commission, Games and Amusement Board, and the Department of Health.

    “Siyempre, natutuwa kami na pinayagan na tayo,” said Marcial, who wrote the IATF a request for teams to be allowed to practice in small groups about a month ago.

    The positive response raises hopes the PBA could salvage its 45th season with the Philippine Cup, which was shut down after just one game last March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

    “First step lang ito, itong pinayagan tayo,” said Marcial. “Tingnan muna natin mga mangyayari pa bago tayo mag-move forward. Pero definitely welcome news ito.”

    Marcial also said he will meet with coaches and team managers on July 10 and then meet with the board of governors three days later for their next steps moving forward.

    After that board meeting, team practices will be held “within five to seven days.”

    Under the PBA’s guidelines, practices will be held under strict health protocols. No scrimmages will be played and it will be on a per-batch basis, consisting of four players, one health officer, and one trainer.

    The players should not have contact with each other. “Siguro tig-isa silang side ng court, habang ‘yung isa nag-we-weights, isa nag-jo-jogging,” Marcial pointed out.

    “After that, switch sila,” added Marcial. “Ganoon ng ganoon hanggang ma-kundisyon sila.”

    The PBA is targeting about a month of practices for all teams.

    Such restrictions are a must since there is still a prohibition for mass sports-related gatherings.  Only when quarantine levels are lowered or totally lifted could players practice together as a team.

    Marcial is optimistic the PBA would meet its target of at least playing out the Philippine Cup by September at the earliest.