FOR the second straight year, the PBA is forced to play a waiting game.
Commissioner Willie Marcial yesterday admitted his office is in the process of looking into possible contingency measures should the steadily rising COVID-19 cases in the country prevent the league from opening its new season.
That includes pushing back the opening anew and looking for an alternative venue in case the pandemic continues to force the government to maintain stricter quarantine levels in areas that are part of the PBA’s original plans..
“No choice tayo kundi hintayin ang next move ng government,” Marcial told Malaya-Business Insight.
“Wala kasi tayong magagawa kundi maghintay,” added Marcial. “Lahat naman ng galaw natin depende sa kung ano ang papayagan ng gobyerno.”
Marcial spoke after it was announced that Rizal province is among the areas in the country that have been reverted to the general community quarantine status up to April 4. Such a quarantine level prevents mass gatherings, including sports-related activities.
The PBA has planned to kick off its 10-month, two-conference season on April 18, with the opening and all games to be played at the Ynares Center in Antipolo, which was under the less restrictive MGCQ when the plans were originally drawn up.
Then came this latest development that was largely brought about by the country recording more than 7,000 cases daily since late last week.
“Susubukan nila (gobyerno) ng two weeks. Pagkatapos, malalaman natin kung papaano,” offered Marcial.
The PBA finds itself in the same situation last year, when it played the Philippine Cup only after having to wait the go-signal from concerned government agencies.
The April 18 kickoff for the season-opening Philippine Cup is the second time the opening has been re-set after the original April 9 opening was pushed back to April 11.
Marcial said delaying the opening anew would mean the season-ending Governors Cup would consequently spill over way into next year instead of the original February goal.
“Kung magsisimula tayo ng May, siguro hanggang end of February ito (season) o March kapag nasagad mga playoffs,” said Marcial.
Marcial wants to give the 12 teams, currently conducting non-contact practices involving only five players at any given time, anywhere from “10 to 12 days” to hold full team practices.
Marcial said the PBA Board may have to convene after the Holy Week to draw up its next possible moves, including launching a search for an alternative venue.
“Of course, wala pang katiyakan lahat at puwedeng mag-improve ang sitwasyon sa Rizal,” Marcal pointed out. “Pero SOP (standard operating procedure) naman na mayroon kang back-up, just in case.”