PBA eyes stricter protocols, shifts opening to Antipolo

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2021 05:46 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The PBA is negotiating with the local government of Antipolo City to hold its opening day at the Ynares Center, commissioner Willie Marcial confirmed Tuesday.

The league originally planned to open its 46th season in Metro Manila on April 11, but Marcial said this date has been pushed back and the venue changed due to COVID-19 restrictions in the National Capital Region.

"Under negotiation pa kami, at mukhang papayag naman," said Marcial, who is in talks with former Antipolo City Mayor Jun Ynares.

If the league comes to an agreement with the local government, Marcial said their plan is to start the All-Filipino Cup shortly after the Holy Week under a "closed circuit" system. 

This means that players can only go from their homes to their practice venues and the game venues, with strict monitoring done by the PBA.

"Sigurado na hihigpitan natin ang protocols," said Marcial. "Ang testing natin, hindi na every 14 days, every 10 days na. Imo-monitor din natin kung saan pumuputa 'yung players. Ibi-brief ko sila na ito 'yung mga bawal, ito 'yung mga hindi pwedeng puntahan." 

"Halimbawa, napuntahan nila 'yun, siguradong may fine at suspended pa sila," he warned.

Marcial said the PBA will likely make use of contact tracing apps, similar to what they used in the bubble in Clark, Pampanga last year for the All-Filipino Cup.

The new target date for the conference is April 18, assuming that PBA teams are cleared to hold scrimmages after the Holy Week. 

"Kung papayagan tayo ng April 5 na mag-scrimmages, bigyan ko ng mga 10 days or 12 days ang teams. Hopefully, kung papayagan tayo, by April 18, baka magsimula na tayo," said Marcial.

However, the commissioner also conceded all of their plans hinge upon the approval not just of the local government of Antipolo City, but also of the Inter-Agency Task Force and the Games and Amusements Board.

"Noong nag-bubble, dapat August, naging September, naging October," he pointed out. "So depende talaga. Pero pinipilit natin na this April mag-start." 

Related video:

Watch more on iWantTFC