PBA weighing all options

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    MARCIAL: Safety of fans paramount.
    MARCIAL: Safety of fans paramount.

    EVERY possibility will be deliberated upon and weighed accordingly.

    That was the assurance given by PBA commissioner Willie Marcial yesterday, just before the league’s Board settled down for what should be a marathon video conference to decide on how to salvage the rest of the season severely disrupted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

    “Lahat ng suggestions, options, opinions from the governors, welcome lahat iyan,” said Marcial.

    “Pati ako meron ding suhestiyon pero ultimately ang final decision nasa mga governors natin,” added Marcial, politely declining to bare what his own thoughts are until the Board hears them first.

    One suggestion seems to be a sound one, at least to its proponent.

    According to the spin.ph website, Blackwater owner Dioceldo Sy urges a PBA return to a two-conference season to offset the current scheduling disturbance caused by the COVID-19 pandemic but also brace the league up for future such disruptions.

    Except for 1981 when the country hosted the SEA Games, the PBA had gone with three-conference seasons from 1975-2003 before pruning its seasons to just two championships per year from 2004-10.

    Since the 2010-11 season, however, the three-conference format was brought back.

    Sy said three conferences per year no longer appear viable, especially with the league forced to tweak its schedule from time to time to adjust to the new FIBA format, and thus resulting in the overlapping of its playing calendar for a season.

    Scheduling became an even bigger problem now that the pandemic forced the PBA to suspend its young season that saw its initial offering Philippine Cup play just its opening game day before the Enhanced Community Quarantine was imposed on the entire Luzon island.

    Just yesterday, the ECQ has been extended to last until the end of the month.

    “I’m all for it (two conferences). I’m a long proponent of two conferences even before this coronavirus outbreak,” Sy was quoted as saying.

    “I think we can do away with two conferences with an import. Just an All-Filipino and one conference with import [na] 6-foot-9 and above. Nagawa naman na ng liga ito before, so I don’t see any reason why we can’t do it now.”

    Sy is aware the PBA has an agreement with most of its sponsors about the number of games it should play in a season, which will likely be reduced if only two conferences are held in a year.

    “Puwedeng mahabang tournament yung Philippine Cup, and then the same with the import-laden conference,” said the amiable executive. “It may not approximate the number of games of having three conferences, but nasa bargaining na ‘yan.”

    Marcial himself has said he doesn’t see the league resuming anytime soon, raising the possibility of reducing the season into two conference and canceling the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup altogether.

    The 2020 season was already slated to finish early 2021 until the Covid-19 threat, and a two-conference format would allow the league to end its 45th season on that same time frame.

    The PBA D-League Aspirants Cup is also facing cancellation since any resumption will likely clash with the holding of the UAAP, NCAA, and other major collegiate leagues.

    Eligibility rules for next year’s PBA draft also need to be revised if the D-League Aspirants’ Cup is canceled. Aspiring rookies need to log a required number of games in the developmental league before becoming eligible for the draft.

    The Aspirants’ Cup, which features school-based teams, opened just last March 2.

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