THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is looking forward to bigger and better 47th season beginning Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said the limitations brought about by the coronavirus pandemic in the past two years only made the PBA, Asia’s first play-for-pay league, to work harder to bring back first-class sports entertainment to its loyal fans and supporters this season.
“As you can see, the PBA is doing everything to ensure that we will have another banner year starting with the Philippine Cup at Araneta this weekend,” said Marcial during the 23rd “Sports On Air” program via Zoom.
“Simula lamang ito ng madaming mga hakbang na ating gagawin para maibalik ang sigla hindi lang sa basketball at ibang sports kundi sa buong bansa matapos ang pandemic,” Marcial told the five-man panel composed of veteran sportswriters and bloggers.
Marcial, who was appointed as the 10th commissioner of the league in 2018, said the new PBA season will formally open this Sunday with the Season 46 Leo Awards presentation to honor the league’s Most Valuable Player and other outstanding individuals at 2 p.m. and an exciting double-header pitting Rain or Shine and new team Cconverge at 4:30 p.m. and TNT against Magnolia Timplados at 6:30 p.m.
It will be the first grand kickoff activity of the PBA since since March 2020 or before the COVID-19 outbreak.
Last Monday, the PBA formally launched its 47th season at the Conrad Hotel, with Marcial, PBA chairman Ricky Vargas of TnT and other high-ranking league officials in attendance.
Three days later, alll 12 PBA teams took timeout from their busy schedule and took part in the PBA Media Day at Novotel in Quezon City.
In other developments:
— Marcial announced that the PBA D-League will also finally resume at a still-to-be determined venue starting July 4.
He said a total of 10 teams will participate in the D-League.
“Itong D-League is very important to us kasi dito muna lalaro yun mga players na aakyat sa PBA,” explained Marcial, adding the league even has to turn down additional five teams.
“May lima pang teams ang gustong sumali, pero we have to say sorry. We cannot accomodate them dahil kailangan namin matapos ang schedule bago magsimula uli ang UAAP and NCAA,” explained Marcial.
— Marcial said the Hong Kong Dragons, the guest foreign team set to play in the PBA Governors’Cup, is set to arrive in the country soon.
“Maaga silang pupunta dito para paghandaan ang PBA Governors’Cup. I was told malakas talaga itong team na ito. They have seven-foot players. They have players from Mainland (China). They also have an import,” said Marcial.
“At gaya ng ibang naging guest foreign teams natin sa mga nakalipas na taon, they are also eligible to win the championship.”
— The PBA will deal with the issue of players’ poaching in the coming weeks.
“As PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas said, the PBA will take action against players’ poaching, especially by unregistered player-agents. It is really detrimental to the league, kaya may mga hakbang na kaming gagawin. Everything should be done legally,” explained Marcial.