Zoom PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial joins powerlifting champion Joyce Gail Reboton, boxing star Jayson Mama, TOPS president Ed Andaya of People’s Tonight and other officers and members during the TOPS “Usapang Sports on Air” via Zoom.

Marcial: PBA gets ready for restart in Bacolor

August 26, 2021 Ed Andaya 771 views

THE coronavirus-delayed 46th season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) hopes to swing back into action with a heavy five-days-a week schedule at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga starting Sept. 1.

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said all 12 teams are now in Pampanga for training in anticipation of a restart following the completion of health and safety protocols recommended by the Inter-Agency Task Force and the approval of Pampanga provincial government

“Tuloy na tayo (PBA) uli. Kung walang maging problema, start na tayo Sept. 1,”said Marcial during the 115th episode of the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom.

“We gave them seven or eight days to practice and in the first week of September, maybe we can resume the games na.”

Marcial said Pampanga Gov. Dennis Pineda and Don Honorio Ventura State University president Dr. Enrique G. Baking have already approved the staging of the games of Asia’s first play-for-pay league in Bacolor, which is known as the “Athens of Pampanga.”

Pampanga Cong. Aurelio D. Gonzales also supported the hosting of the games.

“As I’ve said in previous interviews, the PBA would like to express its appreciation to Gov. Pineda and Cong. Dong Gonzales for their endorsements to the board of trustees of the state university in Bacolor,”added Marcial during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

“Cong. Gonzales, who is also board member of the school, is a friend of the PBA for a long time now.”

Based on the plan, the PBA will hold triple-headers on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and double-headers on Thursdays and Saturdays.

As part of a stricter health protocol in the restart, the PBA will now conduct a weekly RT-PCR tests and antigen tests the morning of every playdate.

“This is only one of the new steps we are taking to comply with the IATF and ensure the health and safety of our players and staff. Last year, our RT-PCR tests were done every 14 days. Ngayon every week na,” claimed Marcial.

The PBA chief said the league will make the schedule of the games for the entire week based on the results of Monday’s RT-PCR tests.

All players and officials will take their first test in Pampanga on Monday, Aug. 30.

Marcial admitted the PBA will be forced to postpone the games again once six teams reach the agreed threshold of affected players.

Marcial also took the time to remind players and officials to follow the guidelines set by the league and IATF.

“May mga kasunduan na kaming na bawal lumabas sa kani-kanilang mga hotels ang mga players, pati officials,” Marcial told TOPS editors and reporters.

The 59-year-old Marcial said the PBA staff will monitor the players and other individuals during the bubble-type setup with the help of the Center for Disease Control under Gen. Valeriano De Leon of the Regional Office Command.

He said fines ranging from P50,000 up to P75,000 and suspension without pay will be slapped to anyone violating the agreement.

“Pero maganda naman ang naging pag-uusap ng lahat. The team and the players have agreed to police their own ranks dahil lahat naman gusto matuloy ang PBA.”

“Kung may mga fans naman na pupunta sa venue or sa hotel, may mga PBA staff na mag-iikot kasama ang CDC at PNP.”

Marcial also said he was very thankful to the players, led by LA Tenorio, for offering to shoulder some of the expenses so that the games can resume.

“In fact, tumawag sa akin ang mga players, led by LA Tenorio. Sabi nya, ‘Comm, ituloy natin ang conference.’ Sabi ko naman baka hindi na kaya mag bubble kasi gumastos na tayo ng P70 million (last year) at wala namang pumapasok (na revenue) sa atin ngayon. Baka hindi na kakayanin ng liga,” Marcial recalled.

He said Tenorio and his fellow team captains have offered to shoulder their food and accomodations during their stay in Pampanga.

Marcial said he relayed the offer to the PBA governors.

“Hindi ko na alam kung ano ang napag-usapan nila pero ang alam ko tumulong na rin ang mga teams sa mga players. Yung gesture ng mga players na tumulong sa PBA from their own pockets, talagang nagpapa-salamat ako.”

Among the practice venues being used by PBA teams right now are Colegio de San Sebastian in San Fernando, Beverly Place Golf and Sports Club in Mexico, Pampanga and Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in Angeles, Pampanga, which hosted the PBA bubble last year.