PBA delays opening, but plans to start 'as soon as possible'

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 05 2021 06:05 PM

PBA delays opening, but plans to start 'as soon as possible' 1

MANILA, Philippines -- The PBA will not start its 46th season on April 18, as originally planned, after the government announced that "NCR Plus" will remain under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) for at least one more week.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial confirmed to ABS-CBN News on Monday afternoon that they are delaying the opening of the season.

"Sigurado nang delayed 'to. Sigurado na," he said.

The league planned to start their All-Filipino Conference on April 18 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo. However, Rizal is one of the areas under ECQ, along with Metro Manila, Laguna, Bulacan and Cavite.

The areas, collectively referred to as "NCR Plus," will remain under ECQ for at least another week as the government combats the surge of COVID-19 cases.

Despite the latest delay, Marcial is still hopeful that they can start the season in May.

"Sana May, or as soon as possible," he said.

Once quarantine restrictions are eased, Marcial plans to give teams two to three weeks to prepare before opening the season. As it stands, teams are not allowed to hold small group practices in areas that are under ECQ. Only individual training sessions are allowed by the Games and Amusements Board.

"Kapag um-okay na, bibigyan namin ng two to three weeks for practices. Pagkatapos noon, doon pa tayo magsisimula," he said.

The plan is still to hold the opening at the Ynares Center.

A "bubble," similar to what the PBA did in 2020 to salvage its season, is on the table but Marcial stressed that it is their "last option."

"Kasi nahihirapan nga tayo," he pointed out. 

Last season's bubble cost the PBA a reported P65 million, and Marcial also saw its impact on the morale and mental health of the players. The league spent over two months in the biosecure environment in Clark, Pampanga, with Barangay Ginebra emerging as champions of the All-Filipino Cup.

While the endeavor was lauded as a great success, it was still a difficult one to pull off and Marcial is reluctant to commit to holding another conference in such fashion.

"Nakikita ko 'yung mental health, doon sila nahihirapan," he said.

The extension of the ECQ has greatly affected sports leagues once again, with the PVL looking to discuss its options, while the Philippines Football League (PFL) has already cancelled the Copa Paulino Alcantara that was set to start this month.

Instead, the PFL will kick off in July.

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