By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
MANILA – The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is still waiting for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to give the league the go signal before it can resume practices.
Commissioner Willie Marcial on Tuesday he has already submitted the protocols he and the PBA board of governors mapped out on how they can start training amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Hinihintay pa rin namin yung desisyon ng task force at ng government para makagalaw. Hanggang wala silang sinasabi, hindi tayo makakagalaw (We are still waiting for the decision of the task force and the government for us to move. As long as they are not saying anything, we cannot move),” Marcial said during the second online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.
Marcial also said the league is looking forward to seeing Metro Manila’s quarantine status downgraded further to a modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).
Only provinces which are under MGCQ can resume holding sporting events provided that the arenas are restricted to accommodate at most 50 percent of their seating capacities.
Marcial said the IATF’s final say can also affect the PBA’s decision if its 45th season, which has been stalled due to the pandemic, will continue at all.
“Doon namin dedesisyunan by August kung anong mangyayari (We will make a decision by August on what is going to happen next),” he added.
Athletes of contact sports like basketball can only return to play once their provinces will be eased further to the “new normal”, that is, all the restrictions have been relieved, and this clause can factor as well in the IATF’s decision on whether it will allow the PBA teams to practice again even if Metro Manila is still under the regular GCQ.
Primarily based on the basketball restart protocols set by FIBA with some added rules, the PBA protocol for return to practice will start with individual conditioning, in which only four players, a trainer, and another staff member are allowed inside the practice facility at a time.
The practice regimen is expected to ease as time goes by until the players can now practice together in small groups and eventually full team training again.
The league advised the head coaches of the teams to only show up once they can do full practices again, although the gaffers will also have to undergo Covid-19 testing like the players.
Should it decide to push through, the PBA is eyeing an October resumption to Season 45, although it will now be in the form of a single season tournament similar to those of the National Basketball Association and the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
Marcial, however, added that San Miguel’s 94-78 opening night win over Magnolia on March 8 will still be credited to both teams’ respective records. (PNA)