Pro league dealing with looming MECQ

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    THERE is a distinct possibility the PBA’s plans of salvaging part of its season may be derailed by the growing number of coronavirus cases in the country.

    The alarming rate of infections has raised the possibility of most parts of the country being placed once again under modified enhanced community quarantine, which would restrict movements and gatherings.

    Add to that the pro league’s scheduled return to practice hitting another roadblock, once again altering the PBA’s timeline for the resumption of the season that has been on hold since March 11. Commissioner Willie Marcial yesterday said the earliest the players may start practicing would be Aug. 10 since they could only start undergoing tests at the Makati Medical Center on Aug. 6 or 7.

    But Games and Amusement chairman Baham Mitra remains optimistic at least the players would still get back into game-shape since there is little chance the green light from the government allowing their workouts would turn into red.

    “Maaring bawiin, pero nandoon na po, may approval na,” Mitra said, referring to the joint administrative order prepared and signed by the GAB, DOH and PSC and approved by the IATF allowing the pro players to return to practice.

    As of late Monday, confirmed COVID cases in the country have risen to more than 82,000, with more than half of that registered in Metro Manila where most of the gyms are located and PBA games are usually played.

    Mitra, however, is confident the government would still honor the JAO that enumerates the health protocols needed to ensure the safety of the players.

    “May joint administrative order na tayo,” Mitra pointed out. “Sa ngayon di muna siguro babawiin iyon. Compliant naman tayo sa IATF.”

    Among the key features of the JAO is limiting the number of participants per batch to just four players and a trainer with a supervising safety officer on the sidelines.

    Mitra said the quarantine level in Metro Manila being raised to ECQ or the slightly less stringent MECQ would still allow practices by batch to continue.

    “Maaring pa rin naman sigurong mag-practice,” he said. “Basta sundin lang ‘yung minimum number.”

    A copy of the JAO reached the PBA office Monday that should have put into motion the league’s plans of immediately having all the players undergo the mandated pre-prctice swab testing for the virus.

    Then came the unexpected, as reported by Marcial.

    “Punong-puno mga testing facilities, pati ‘yung sa Makati Med, kaya sa first week of August pa tayo puwedeng mag-umpisang mag-pa-test doon,” Marcial said.

    “Yung (swab) testing within two days labas na ang resulta, so possible by (Aug.) 10 pataas ang simula ng workouts.”

    Marcial added the pro league’s timeline remains unaffected since he has compensated for such delays. “Nandoon pa rin naman tayo, na sa September o hanggang mid-October tayo makakapaglaro ulit,” he said.