Pro league season opening put on hold

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    THE PBA opening its new season on April 18 is now definitely out of the question.

    Commissioner Willie Marcial yesterday said that because parts of the country, including Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces, are reverting back to the enhanced community quarantine starting today, the PBA will be forced to suspend operations for at least week.

    That includes suspending the teams’ small group practices and pushing back anew the opening date and searching for another venue, just in case.

    “Siguradong hindi na April 18,” Marcial told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.

    “Pati mga teams, walang practices,” added Marcial. “Starting from GCQ lang puwedeng mag-practice. ECQ hindi puwede. Based iyan du’n sa JAO.”

    The frightening spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths in the country has prompted the government to place Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan to ECQ, the strictest quarantine level, at least until April 4.

    The PBA has already reset its season-opener twice before settling on April 18 as the date, with Ynares Center in Antipolo City as the venue.

    Marcial set the final date to allow all 12 teams to conduct practices, which are currently limited to non-contact conditioning and workouts involving only five players per session. He had wanted to give them 10 to 12 days for 5-on-5 scrimmages, but that plan, too, has been put on hold.

    “Kahit individual practice, tigil. Sa bahay nila puwede pero sa gyms hindi, Bawal,” said Marcial.

    As it is, Marcial would continue to wait until after the Holy Week, to see what the government’s next move would be.

    “By April 5 titingnan ko muna kung ano status,” he said. “Siguro, within a week magpapatawag na tayo ng board meeting.”

    Marcial also debunked persistent rumors that some PBA players have been among those infected in recent days.

    “Tsismis lang ‘yan para sa akin. Lahat naman nag-pa-practice,” explained Marcial.

    “Siguro, gumagaling. Kunyari isang cluster hindi maglalaro. After a week lalaro na. May mga ganoon,” added Marcial. “Pero para sa akin, hindi naman tumitigil ang practices ng mga teams.”

    Marcial admitted hearing some reports of some infections, but said they involved other team personnel.

    “May narinig din ako, parang ballboys,” he said. “Kasi sila lumalabas, pumupunta sa palengke, nag-ko-commute, na sinasabing main source ng infections. Pero detected daw naman agad at walang players na nahawa.”