Teams to carry padded rosters next season

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    MARCIAL

    TEAMS may carry with them padded rosters in the coming PBA season.

    Commissioner Willie Marcial said allowing the teams to carry more than the usual 15-man roster is one of the options being mulled to at least neutralize the lingering threat of the COVID pandemic on the pro league.

    “Na-bring up iyon para kapag may nag-test positive na player, hindi masyadong apektado iyung team in terms of number ng players,” Marcial explained.

    “That way, mas minimized ‘yung possibility na may mag-fo-forfeit (ng game) kasi kulang ang player na available sa kanila, lalo na’t bukod sa injury may mag-test positive,” added Marcial.

    Teams are usually allowed to line up a maximum of 15 players per tournament, but more could be added, depending on what is agreed upon–if ever–by the PBA Board.

    “Kasi suggestion lang iyon and nasa sa Board pa rin kung i-a-approve iyon o hindi,” cautioned Marcial.

    The PBA is taking its cue from the NBA, which has combined the protocols by the league and teams to safeguard its season that starts tomorrow (Wednesday in Manila). The NBA has allowed each of its teams to carry 17-man rosters.

    Avidly observing how the NBA and other major leagues around the world progress with their tournaments is the PBA, which has its own unique concerns and hopes to address them by taking the best moves of others.

    Main reason why having more players in a lineup is just one of the many to be discussed by the PBA teams’ representatives in their meeting next month.

    Foremost among those also to be put on the table by Marcial and his staff for the Board to decide are the kind of concept at least the season-opening Philippine Cup would be played under, whether it be another bubble or a closed concept one, and where the venue would be.

    The PBA has salvaged part of its 45th season by playing the Philippine Cup through a 72-day bubble in Pampanga, an endeavor that cost the league P65 million.

    The closed concept is a kind of semi-bubble, where the players would be restricted to a home-venue-home routine in both practices and official games.

    As of now, the PBA wants to play its usual three-conference season starting in early April, but doubts whether another costly bubble is feasible.

    “Successful tayo doon sa bubble pero baka hindi kayanin ang logistics, lalo na kung tatlong conferences,” offered Marcial. “Isa pa, ‘yung mental health issues ng everybody na nasa loob ng bubble.”

    Should the PBA opt for a closed concept model, there would be a trade-off, warned Marcial. “Kasi dadalas ang testing,” he pointed out.

    Everybody inside the Pampanga bubble was required to undergo swab tests every two weeks.

    Where to play is another matter that needs to be addressed.

    “By April baka at least limited pa rin ang audience na puwedeng papasukin kaya baka hindi na natin kailanganin ang malaking venue,” said Marcial. “So naghahanap na tayo ng ibang alternatives, just in case.”