Pro league not losing hope it can resume

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    THE COVID-19 pandemic remains a big concern for the government and may just jeopardize the PBA’s plans to resume its halted season.

    But Commissioner Willie Marcial remains hopeful.

    Marcial yesterday said the league is going ahead with its plans to officially decide on the how to go about finishing the Philippine Cup and salvage at least part of the league’s 45th season.

    “Kung saan, kung ano’ng klaseng bubble, kung ano (tournament) format,” enumerated Marcial, referring to the decisions the PBA Board would finalize in its special meeting on Thursday. “Pero depende pa rin sa gobyerno. Dapat payagan tayo, di ba?”

    Marcial’s apprehension stems largely from Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles’ statement last Saturday night that the government is not ready to allow scrimmages for contact sports like basketball.

    “Because of the COVID-19 cases, we are not yet confident enough to allow contact sports,” Nograles said in a Facebook Live video.

    Nograles admitted the government may be slowly easing restrictions, but scrimmages are still not allowed.

    “Let’s take it one step at a time. Let’s start first with the condition training. Let’s talk about the scrimmage practice later, and the actual games,” said Nograles.

    As of yesterday, there were close to 50,000 active COVID cases in the country, with majority of the infections recorded in Metro Manila.

    Marcial admitted barring PBA teams from conducting scrimmages would throw a monkey wrench on the league’s plans.

    “Malaki ang epekto dahil aatras ang schedule natin,” noted Marcial. “Di na natin alam kung itutuloy pa iyung season kung ganyan.”

    But Marcial said the PBA would still go ahead and finalize its plans.

    “Go pa rin,” he said. “Di pa naman tayo i-dini-deny ng IATF. Wala namang sinasabing official sa amin. So hoping pa rin talaga ako.”

    The PBA has written the IATF asking for permission to conduct full-contact scrimmages among the players, who have gone through individual workouts since Aug. 25.

    Marcial is hoping for a positive reply within the week so the teams can do their collective practices starting next week.

    Forced into a lockdown by the coronavirus outbreak since playing just one game in the season-opening tourney last March, the PBA had written another letter to the IATF asking for permission to play actual games starting next month so that it could finish by mid-December.

    The main option for the PBA in such a resumption is to conduct it in a controlled environment or bubble.