THE PBA is keenly watching the NBA season, anxious to see how the oldest pro cage league in the world deals with the growing number of COVID-19 or related cases in its ranks.
Commissioner Willie Marcial said he wants to see what steps the NBA is taking in the hopes those proven effective could be used in the local context.
“Talagang minamatyagan natin ng husto kung ano ang ginagawa nila. Kung ano maganda, i-a-adopt natin dito,” Marcial told Malaya-Business Insight.
Since the NBA kicked off its 75th season last Dec. 22 the league has been beset by COVID-related and contact-tracing issues.
Strict health and safety protocols being implemented by the NBA have sidelined players, postponed games, and even forced some teams to play games with the minimum eight active players.
Already, six games have been postponed so far, the latest being the Orlando-Boston and Utah-Washington matchups yesterday.
The NBA has no plans to pause the season, a league spokesman told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The NBA was already forced into a three-month lockdown by the pandemic last season before resuming through a bubble in Orlando, Florida, in late July and winding up in mid-October.
The PBA used the same bubble concept to resume play after opening the season on March 8, 2020 and being forced into a lockdown three days later.
The Philippine Cup was played in Clark, Pampanga, with Ginebra topping the lone tournament salvaged from the PBA’s 45th season.
Currently, the PBA is leaning towards a more cost-friendly semi-bubble concept within Metro Manila with April 9 as the tentative date for the start of the new season.
In coordination with the Games and Amusements Board and following protocols previously laid down by the other concerned government agencies, particularly the IATF, Marcial has already given the green light for all 12 PBA teams to start practices on Monday.
“Basta limited to five players per session, shootaround and physical conditioning lang, laging may safety officer at walang contact or scrimmages,” Marcial said.
The GAB must inspect each practice gym and the teams must also first get the permission of the LGU where the venue is located. The gym would also be sanitized before each session and those involved must limit their movements to home-gym-home with any detours.
Marcial said it would be easier to implement safety protocols from the NBA to the PBA.
“Sa ngayon medyo mukhang nahihirapan sila (NBA) dahil nga sa dami ng teams nila at kanya-kanyang city or state pinanggagalingan ng mga players, staff at iba pang team personnel,” he noted.
“Dito sa atin halos sa Metro Manila lahat at ‘yung iba naman sa holidays lang umuuwi so mas madaling ma-control ýung movements, contact tracing mas madali.”