PBA to play behind closed doors?

    DECISION TIME: The PBA Board, led by chairman Ricky Vargas of TNT (with microphone), is set to decide measures to be taken as the league wrestles with the COVID-19 risk.
    DECISION TIME: The PBA Board, led by chairman Ricky Vargas of TNT (with microphone), is set to decide measures to be taken as the league wrestles with the COVID-19 risk.

    THE PBA is putting the public’s safety above everything else and is seriously considering holding games behind closed doors as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

    The PBA Board was set to hold an emergency meeting last night to discuss steps the league is taking amid the COVID-19 outbreak, which has steadily spread its venom in the country, with Commissioner Willie Marcial leading the discussion.

    “Para makagawa ng steps, magkaintindihan kung ano sitwasyon,” Marcial told Malaya-Business Insight, adding the team governors would ultimately decide on any safety measure that would be taken.

    “Ipapakita ko lahat sa kanila, ilalatag ko lahat kung papaano,” said Marcial. “Kung ano impact sa sponsorships, marketing, TV, venues, operations.”

    Another route the league could take is postponing its games, including out-of-town matches scheduled in Balanga, Bataan (March 14), Dipolog City (April 25) and Cagayan de Oro (May 2).

    Marcial admitted he is personally inclined to recommend holding the games behind closed doors, which carries with it the ticklish matter of how long it could be viable for the league.

    “Sa akin closed door, pero ayun nga, kung for two weeks, three weeks, one month,” said Marcial. “Ipapakita ko sa kanila, then tingnan na lang natin kung ano decision ng board.”

    As of yesterday, there were more than 30 confirmed COVID-19 cases out of the 600-plus persons suspected of having been infected by the virus in Metro Manila alone. Last Monday, President Duterte announced a state of public health emergency.

    The respiratory disease has killed nearly 4,000, with more than 110,000 cases recorded in over 100 countries and territories.

    The PBA has already been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, forcing it to push back its opening from March 1 to last Sunday, March 8.

    All of the 9,000 fans who watched the opening ceremonies and the lone game pitting San Miguel Beer and Magnolia were subjected to temperature checks.

    A team representative to the PBA Board has already said he is in favor of holding the games behind closed doors.

    “Kung wala rin namang pupunta ng venue para manood, what’s the use pa? Better na rin for the public na manood na lang ng live streaming or online,” said the governor, who declined to be named until a decision has been made.

    Should the league decide to bar the public from the games, first to be impacted would be today’s twin-bill pitting TNT against Phoenix Super LPG and NLEX against NorthPort .

    “Iyung mga laro bukas mamaya pa malalaman lahat,” said Marcial.

    Each of the protagonists are looking to join SMB, which hardly showed the ill effects of playing minus the injured June Mar Fajardo by winning over Magnolia 94-78 on opening day.

    Beefed-up by the acquisition of Poy Erram from NLEX in a pre-season trade that also involved Blackwater, the KaTropa are looking to pounce on the Fuel Masters, whose own frontline thinned following an ACL injury to Jake Pascual and Dave Marcelo undergoing a recent surgery to remove bone spurs on his foot.

    The Road Warriors now have to rely on JR Quinahan filling their hole in the middle against the Batang Pier’s frontline combo of Christian Standhardinger and Sean Anthony, who were recently named to their First Mythical Team selection following an outstanding 2019-20 season.