THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is taking one step backward for now, but hopes to take two steps forward when the health situation in the country improves next month.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial made this assertìon as he appealed for patience and understanding from the entire PBA community, including the fans, for the league’s decision to postpone the games of the PBA Governor’s Cup “indefinitely or until the situation allows.”
“With the approval of the PBA Board, we have decided to postpone the games indefinitely, but we’ll be back soon as early as February,” said Marcial during the initial presentation of the ‘”Sports on Air Weekly” vodcast last Jan. 14.
Marcial said the PBA decided to postpone the games on its own, not only to support the government’s campaign to battle the spread of the disease, but also to ensure the safety of the players and officials and their families.
“Malaking sakripisyo po ito para sa PBA pero para na din ito sa kabutihan nating lahat. Sa ngayon hinihintay talaga naming bumaba ang mga cases kaya humihingi kami ng 2-3 weeks. Sa February, magpapatawag uli ako ng board meeting para mapag-usapan ang pagpapatuloy ng liga,” explained Marcial.
Marcial, who became the 10th commissioner of the league, on Jan. 25, 2018, admitted several players, team staff, ballboys and even referees have already tested positive.
“Ang sinasabi namin ngayon ay kapag patuloy na tumataas ang cases, makakasigurado pa ba tayo na safe pa rin tayo sa pag-uwi ng bahay. Ang mga players hindi sigurado na pag-uwi nila ay negative pa din. Pag-uwi nila paano kung mahawa ang asawa at mga anak nila. Yan ang hindi ko po kaya.”
“Pag bumaba na yan (active cases), dahan-dahan na tayo pero kung mataas pa rin, lalo na nasa 20,000-30,000 cases, nakakatakot hindi lang sa amin pati sa atin lahat.”
One of the major concerns of the league is the presence of foreign imports, whose stay in the country would most likely be extended due to the postponement.
“Isa yan sa mga kailangang pag-usapan ngayong nahinto tayo. Paano yun mga imports? Panoo yun mga salaries nila? Tuloy-tuloy pa din ito,” admitted the 60-year-old executive who joined the league in 1983 during the time of former PBA Commissioner Leo Prieto.
He also said the PBA is working closely with the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra.
“GAB gave us the go-signal to resume in a bubble-type tournament similar to what we had in Clark last year kaya naman nagpa-pasalamat kami sa GAB at kay Chairman Mitra.”
Asked about the possible venues of the PBA when it finally resumes next month, Marcial pointed to several places where the local government units are very supportive of the league’s health and safety protocold.
“As of now, hindi ko pa po nasusulatan si Mayor Vico Sotto of Pasig pero nagpapasalamat kami na nung kanilang unang flag-raising ceremony sa City Hall last Jan. 3 sinabi niya na papayagan ang PBA dahil may mga sapat na protocols at may safety officers kami,” said Marcial.
“Nagpapasalamat din kami kay Mayor Joy (Belmonte).of Quezon City, Mayor (Emi) Calixto of Pasay City, pati si Mayor (Andrea) Torres of Antipolo sa kanilang suporta. Susulatan po natin silang lahat kapag maaari nang ituloy ang ating liga sa February,” added Marcial.
The PBA decision to postpone the games last Dec. 26 came just two weeks after the fans have started to troop back to watch the games live in the games at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Last Dec. 25, a crowd of close to 5,000 watched the Christmas Day doubleheader which had the Magnolia- Barangay Ginebra showdown as its main attraction.
“Makikita mo ang saya sa mukha ng mga fans, na nakapanood na uli sila. Dati may mga fans na nag-aaway pa. Ngayon kantsawan na lang. Masaya sila na nagkita-kita uli sa games. Kaya sayang nandun na sana yun momentum,” recalled Marcial.
Also last Friday, Presidential Spokesman Karlo Nograles announced Metro Manila will continue to be under Alert Level 3 in terms of the current COVID-19 situation. with reports from Gab Ferreras