THE PBA is taking another step towards some semblance of normalcy before its 46th season opens next month.
After their two-day planning session that ended last Tuesday, league officials announced the PBA Board has approved plans to conduct a 10-month, two-conference season, including one with imports.
The projected season remains shy of the PBA’s usual three-conference format that can sometimes run up to 11 months and is expected to be mostly conducted in a semi-bubble set-up, but should still be enough to satisfy part of the basketball-crazy fans’ cravings.
“We are looking forward to ten months of season in Season 46,” said PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas during a virtual press briefing. “It is our hope that we are able to bring ten months of basketball to the Philippines starting April 11.”
Everything depends upon approval by the concerned government agencies, particularly the IATF, and Commissioner Willie Marcial said he has received some encouraging feedback in that regard following his recent meeting with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Sen. Bong Go.
“Mukhang ngayon, may meeting ang IATF. Baka i-tackle na ‘yung request natin,” related Marcial. “Kasi nagbigay tayo ng letter. Nasa Task Force na ‘yung letter. Sinabihan ako kanina na mukhang ngayon isasalang ‘yung request natin sa Task Force. Nakapila na ang ating request.”
Under the approved plans, the Philippine Cup will be played in the first four months while the Governors’ Cup will be played in the remaining six months. Done away with, at least for this year, is the mid-season Commissioner’s Cup.
The season-ending conference will feature a double round-robin format, plus the presence of imports who must not exceed the usual 6-foot-5 height ceiling.
The new opening date is two days removed from the original schedule, which coincides with the league’s founding anniversary.
Vargas, who was also accompanied by Vice Chairman Bobby Rosales of Terrafirma, Dickie Bachmann of Alaska and Al Panlilio of Meralco in the briefing, said they are hoping to hold the tournament and in a home-venue-home routine for the concerned personnel.
Due to the pandemic, the PBA was forced to hold the Philippine Cup last year in a bubble set-up in Pampanga that reportedly cost the league P65 million.
“What we want is a non-bubble. If we go to a bubble, it’s going to be very expensive for the PBA to do. We’re working so that we are able to do a semi-bubble,” said Vargas.
Marcial said the league has been in talks with a couple of prospective hosts but declined from naming them yet. He added the league prefers to play within NCR, unlike last year when they were cooped up in the bubble for nearly three months.
“Ang nire-request natin makalaro sa NCR. Sana pagbigyan tayo ng Task Force. Nine-negotiate na rin namin ‘yung venues so tingnan natin. Pero request namin, NCR. Kasi nahihirapan talaga pag nasa labas tayo,” said Marcial.