No green light for PBA if COVID-19 cases keep rising

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 29 2021 05:42 PM | Updated as of Apr 29 2021 06:37 PM

No green light for PBA if COVID-19 cases keep rising 1

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will not be allowed to open its 46th season if the COVID-19 cases in the country continue to rise.

This was the condition given to PBA commissioner Willie Marcial and Barangay Ginebra team governor Alfrancis Chua by Senator Bong Go and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea following their meeting at Malacañang on Wednesday. 

"Nag-request tayo kung ano ang pwede," Marcial said in a press briefing on Thursday afternoon.

"Sabi nila, one, kailangan bumaba tlaga 'yung ating cases ng COVID," he said. "Kung hindi bababa, baka hindi tayo makapaglaro."

The PBA initially hoped to open its 46th season on April 18, but those plans were scuppered as a Metro Manila and nearby provinces were placed under enhanced community quarantine following a spike in coronavirus cases.

"NCR Plus," which includes Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, remains under modified enhanced community quarantine until May 14. 

"Kailangan tayo magtulong-tulong para bumaba ang mga cases," said Marcial. "Kung hindi, hindi tayo magsisimula. Hindi lang basketball -- lahat."

On Thursday, the country reported 8,276 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 1,028,738 million. There are currently 69,354 remaining as active cases in the Philippines as per the latest bulletin from the Department of Health.

In order to aid their cause, the PBA is ramping up its vaccination program. While the parent companies of PBA franchises can order their own COVID-19 vaccines, they will also be aided by the government. According to Chua, Go said the government will sell COVID-19 vaccines to the PBA. 

"Para makapag-umpisa at matulungan ang buong PBA family, 'pag dumating sa government (ang vaccine), bebentahan niya ang buong PBA para makasimula na. Bibigyan niya kami ng special slot, para ma-vaccine ang mga players, pamilya ng mga players, pati coaches, managers, lahat," Chua said of Go's guarantee to the league. 

"Ang sabi, bebentahan. Ilalagay ko kayo sa prioirty list na pwede kayo bumili ng vaccine diretso sa amin," he added.

The country's vaccination drive started last March, with frontline health care workers, senior citizens, and persons with comorbidities first in the priority list. Earlier this month, the government approved a fourth priority group, frontline personnel in essential sectors.

As of April 29, a total of 4,025,600 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in the Philippines, as per the ABS-CBN News vaccine tracker. Over 1.8 million doses have been administered.

"Pinayagan kami ni Sen. Bong Go na mag-purchase ng sarili naming vaccine," Chua also said. "So what's gonna happen here, is whichever comes first. Kung ano ang mauna, 'yun ang gagamitin."

But Marcial warned that even if the entire PBA family is vaccinated, it's no guarantee that they will receive the go-signal to open their season.

"Kunwari na-vaccine na lahat, pero mataas pa rin ang cases, hindi pa rin tayo papayagan," he said.

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