PBA clutching at straws in bid to salvage season

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    THE PBA is not going down without a fight.

    A long-time team PBA Board member yesterday said he and some of his colleagues will do everything within their means to push through with the league’s 46th season despite the pandemic’s lingering threat.

    “As much as we can itutuloy namin iyan. Syempre, di naman namin papabayaan na basta tumiklop ang PBA ng ganu’n-ganu’n na lang,” the governor told Malaya-Business Insight.

    “We will do everything na kaya namin without compromising the health and safety of our people. Paramount iyung health and safety of everyone concerned,” he stressed.

    “Ako, personally, iyon ang gusto ko d’yan. We cannot let 40-plus years go down the drain without a fight. Ilalaban namin kahit papaano iyan, without compromising health and safety.”

    The team representative is being given anonymity since some members of his immediate family were just coming off a bout with the deadly virus.

    “Ang daming tinamaan dito sa pamilya ko. Dalawang anak ko, isang manugang ko, apo ko na nakatira sa akin, maid namin,” related the governor. “Okay na sila. Asymptomatic naman, nakaraos na kami sa 14-day quarantine.”

    That does not hold true for a vast majority of others, however.

    The recent spike in COVID-19 cases spurred the government to revert Metro Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Bulacan and Cavite into enhanced community quarantine for at least until April 11, but it now looks as if that would be extended still until the infections subside.

    Already, the implementation of the strictest quarantine level has derailed the PBA’s plans to start the season-opening Philippine Cup on April 18 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo, with May now more likely the new kickoff date.

    Directly affected were the teams’ preparations, as well as the companies that own them.

    “Kawawa din mga players, staff, dahil ‘yung paghahanda nila walang katiyakan,” said the governor. “Hindi lang sila. Kawawa lalo ‘yung mga kumpanya. Nagpapasuweldo sila ng mga walang ginagawa.”

    The league’s initial plans include the season ending with the Governors Cup, projected to run for six months. But when that tournament would start remains a big question mark for now.

    One thing for sure, the PBA wants a two-conference season to somewhat recover from the big financial hit it took last year when its season was limited to only the Philippine Cup played under a bubble format in Pampanga and reportedly cost the league at least P65 million to stage.

    “Iyun ang pinaka-ideal, dalawang conferences na hindi bubble type,” said the governor.

    “Magastos ‘yung mag-bubble type. Kung dalawang conferences na hindi bubble type medyo makakabawi-bawi na kami doon. Hindi na kami masyadong dehado.”

    But with total infections in the country numbering more than 800,000 and total deaths nearing the 14,000 mark, there is a distinct possibility the government would not ease up on its restrictions.

    The PBA Board is set to hold a special meeting next week to plot its next course of action.

    The governor warned the PBA should brace for such a worst-case scenario, including settling for another one-conference season played in another bubble. “Okay lang basta matuloy lang,” he said.

    “We’re ready to go into a bubble, lalo na ngayong may experience na kami. So pag nagkagipitan baka one conference na naka-bubble iyan. Pero hindi papabayan na mag-zero ang PBA.”

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