THE PBA has the final say on when its teams can get back to practice, much less resume its drastically altered Season 45.
In the meantime, Blackwater coach Nash Racela, like the rest of the league, could only play the waiting game.
“Wala tayong choiceh. Lahat naman affected, so all we can do right now is for that go-signal to come,” Racela told Malaya-Business Insight. “Pero sana sooner than later.”
If there is any hint of impatience in Racela’s voice it is perfectly understandable. The Elite were supposed to start their season-opening Philippine Cup campaign last March 14 against Ginebra in Balanga, Bataan. That game was also supposed to mark Racela’s formal return to the PBA after almost three years.
The COVID-19 outbreak, however, forced the PBA to put on hold all its activities starting last March 11, extending Racela’s wait that started soon after he was let go by TNT midway in the 2018 Governors Cup.
The pro league’s governors were set to meet yesterday to discuss guidelines for the return to practices of teams, albeit in small groups.
Whatever the governors approve would be submitted in a letter of proposal to the Inter-Agency Task Force, which hands down rules everybody must obey amidst the pandemic.
The IATF has so far allowed non-contact sports with strict health protocols and the PBA is hoping the same relaxed rules would be accorded its basketball teams to start practices with the same adherence to health and safety of the participants.
Racela is simply glad the PBA is taking a proactive stance that would ultimately lead to the teams resuming their own activities.
“I think that’s something that’s very positive,” said Racela. “I’m pretty sure hindi naman agad-agad na puwede full practices. Siguro, 2-on-2, 3-on-3, then 5-on-5 by September, so at least ngayon pa lang makapag-plano.”
Meanwhile, Racela could only look at the double-edged sword the prolonged lockdown has brought with regards to his team.
“In a way nakatulong siya sa rest and recovery of some specific players. Pero in terms of preparation siyempre… naantala,” said Racela. “Pero all teams naman affected sa preparation for actual games.”
Blackwater’s Mac Belo, Carl Bryan Cruz, Maurice Shaw and Richard Escoto were nursing injuries before the season began.
Shaw and fellow rookie Esocoto are now both close to 100 percent but Belo and Cruz have yet to fully recover from their knee surgeries.
“In terms of rehab, nagagawa nila but there are some limitations. Kumbaga, hindi nila ma-upgrade ‘yung kanilang rehab,” Racela said of his two veteran forwards.
“At least ngayon, kapag allowed na to go back to practice, iyung rehab nila mas matututukan na.”