Marcial: Players' welfare, 'peace of mind' prioritized by PBA

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 13 2022 05:33 PM | Updated as of Jan 14 2022 11:47 AM

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial. PBA Media Bureau.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA, Philippines -- The stoppage of games has proven to be a costly decision for the PBA, but commissioner Willie Marcial insists it's one they have to make for the sake of the players' welfare and peace of mind.

The PBA announced the postponement of the Governors' Cup last week, amid a spike in COVID-19 cases that led the government to put Metro Manila under Alert Level 3. Teams have also been barred from holding scrimmages, although small-group training sessions are still allowed.

"It's always difficult to postpone even just one game," noted PBA chairman Ricky Vargas during a recent appearance on "Power and Play." "Malaki ang financial impact noon."

"We disappoint fans. We have TV commitments, and it is also an impact on the team, 'no, both from the PBA, from the sponsorship side, and from the team," he added. "And lalo na ito, import-laden."

"So 'yung tagal ng suspension, eh ganoon din katagal ang extra na bayad na ibibigay mo sa import. The cost to the team itself is a big amount," Vargas acknowledged. "So it's a big sacrifice."

Appearing on "The Chasedown," Marcial said he is appealing both to the fans as well as the team governors and owners for their understanding, even as he also lamented the heavy financial impact of the conference's stoppage.

Imports are still in the country as the PBA continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation, with Marcial hoping that cases will begin to go down by February -- a development that will go a long way toward the resumption of the games.

"Alam ko malaki gastos, dire-diretso sweldo ng mga players, may imports po tayo. Humihingi ako ng pasensya," said Marcial. "Talaga pong malaking gastos."

However, Marcial said this was a sacrifice they had to make, if only to reassure the PBA players.

"Kapag sinabi nating maglalaro, maglalaro 'yang mga 'yan. Siyento porsiyento, kasi trabaho natin. Trabaho din nila na maglaro," he said of the players.

"Pero pag-uwi mo sa bahay, 'yun ang sinasabi ko," he pointed out. "Maski na ako, pagpunta ko doon, okay, negative ako. Pero madami akong makakasalubong. Mga taga-Araneta, mga TV, media, mga staff namin, players, kung sino-sino."

"Pag-uwi ko ba, sigurado akong negative pa rin?"

These are the same questions that the players are undoubtedly asking, the commissioner noted.

"Kailangan pumunta kasi trabaho mo 'yun. Pero okay lang, okay lang tayo. Pero 'yung mga anak at asawa nila, 'pag 'yun ang naapektuhan, hindi ko kaya 'yun. 'Yan ang hindi ko kayang konsensiyahin, or malulunok kung magkasakit ang pamilya nila," he said.

With COVID-19 cases still rising -- the country reported a new record-high of 34,021 new cases on Thursday -- Marcial said he is standing by his decision.

"'Yan nga ang sinasabi ko, hindi naman natin kailangan magpabida. Ang PBA, hindi kailangan magpabida sa mga ganitong panahon," the commissioner said.

"Okay nga, naglalaro nga tayo, tayo lang ang naglalarong liga. Paano naman 'yung peace of mind nila? Lalo na contact sports sila, nagkakadikitan sila. Paano pag-uwi?" he added. "Katulad ng sinabi ko, kung mahahawa ang mga asawa nila o mga anak nila, hindi ko kakayanin 'yun."