THE pro league is making its own sacrifice to help lessen the risk of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spreading in the country.
Citing the safety of its fans as its topmost prority, the PBA announced yesterday it has postponed all its activities, including Philippine Cup and D-League games, indefinitely or “until further notice” due to the rising confirmed cases of the disease.
The decision was made by the PBA board in consultation with Commissioner Willie Marcial in an emergency meeting that lasted more than three hours last Tuesday night.
“Nakita ng Board kung ano, tiningnan nila lahat, safety at iyung health ng mga tao, players, fans,” Marcial said in a press conference yesterday morning at the PBA office in Libis, Quezon City. “So nag-decide sila mas makakabuti na i-suspend muna natin games, para sa lahat.”
The move is expected to affect the PBA’s schedule, with the new season now expected to drag on until the first quarter of next year.
“Magtatapos tayo ng March, April. Depende nga sa sitwasyon dito sa coronavirus,” said Marcial.
“Hindi na namin tinitingnan kung ano’ng impact, kung ano, schedule, pera. Ang tinitingnan namin kung ano kalagayan nating lahat,” added Marcial. “Hindi na namin tinitingnan kung ano mawawala sa amin. Ang mahalaga iyung safety ng lahat.”
The suspension takes effect starting with the doubleheader featuring TNT against Phoenix and NorthPort versus NLEX yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Marcial said the league will monitor the “the effects of Covid 19 on a day-to-day basis.”
Also put on hold are the league’s men’s 3×3 inaugurals set to unravel later this month, as well as the usual barangay visits and open court practices.
The Philippine Cup’s first out-of-town game in Balanga, Bataan pitting Ginebra and Blackwater on Saturday will also be reset.
“‘Yung game sa Bataan this Saturday, cancelled muna rin. I-re-reset naming pero ‘yun pa rin ticket,” said Marcial. “Kung anuman iyung ticket na na-purchase nila, iyun pa rin ang gagamitin. Itago lang nila tickets.”
The pro league’s move follows those made earlier by other leagues, led by the NCAA and UAAP, to cancel or postpone their games, spurred by the dramatic increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.
In less than a week, confirmed cases of the virus in the Philippines spiked from three to 33, according to the latest information found on the Department of Health website as of yesterday.
The PBA will follow guidelines from the DOH and the World Health Organization moving forward.
“With the help of DOH, makikita rin naman natin. Kaya rin naisipan ng Governors (to suspend) kasi nagsimula sa three, five, tapos biglang sumirit sa 33,” said Marcial. “Ewan ko lang ngayon kung ilan na. Naisipan na din (to suspend) para rin sa ating lahat.”
Marcial said thumbed down by the team representatives was a proposal to play games behind closed doors.
“Closed door mga 300 to 400 na tao din gagalaw doon, mga TV (personnel), (game) officials, players,” related Marcial. “Tiningnan lahat ng anggulo, so napagpasyahan na supended o cancelled muna games hanggang… tingnan natin kung papaano sa mga darating na araw sitwasyon sa COVID-19.”
All the 12 teams have been informed and, while being allowed to continue with their practices, were urged to take their own precautions.
“Diretso sila sa praktis nila at saka bibigyan sila ng team guidelines kung ano mga dapat gawin at ano mga hindi dapat gawin sa mga day-to-day na ginagawa nila,” offered Marcial.
“Talagang sakripisyo lahat. Talagang ganyan. Di naman natin ginusto itong pagkakataon na ito.”