MANILA, Philippines -- The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League's plans to start its new season on June 12 may not be feasible, as the league is still in the process of securing the necessary permits from the government.
This, according to MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes who said they hope to begin their new campaign at the earliest possible time.
"May hopes pa rin ang league [to start on June 12]," Duremdes said during Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
"But then again… hindi pa nga nakapag-practice 'yung teams, may mga teams na wala pang mga players," he admitted. "So medyo tingin ko lang, in my own opinion, baka hindi tayo makaabot sa June 12."
The MPBL concluded its 2019–2020 run in March, after games were derailed for a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lakan Cup playoffs resumed in a bubble in Subic, with Davao Occidental emerging as champions after beating San Juan in four games in the finals.
At the moment, the league is still waiting for approval from the IATF for teams to start practices in their respective local government units, according to Duremdes. A total of 19 teams have committed to play in the upcoming season.
"Sa ngayon, tinitingnan natin na if ever hindi man tayo maka-start ng June 12, [probably] this July or August," Duremdes said. "Mahirap kasi mag-tantiya ng timeline ngayon for the opening, kasi nga, nagbabago-bago ang guidelines ng IATF when it comes to LGU guidelines."
Teams based in "NCR Plus" -- Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal -- are still not allowed to hold training sessions as the area remains under modified enhanced community quarantine.
But even the squads who are based in LGUs that are under more relaxed quarantine status cannot practice without the go-signal from the IATF, as well as the local government.
"Sa application sa IATF, doon natin malalaman kung i-allow sila ng IATF na mag-practice. Kasi ang IATF, ang ginagawa ng national is, pag approved ka na, ibababa pa nila sa region, sa LGU mo. And then 'yun ang magde-decide," he explained.
"So, i-assess pa nila ang areas nila kung pwede nga ba, or allowed na. So marami siyang dadaanan na process," he added.
Once teams have been given the official clearance to start practicing, Duremdes plans to give them a few weeks before opening the season. The league is once again targeting a bubble set-up, with Subic a possible venue once more.
The timeline, however, remains murky.
Duremdes revealed that for the resumption of the Lakan Cup, it took them three months to complete the necessary requirements.
"We're hoping this time, baka naman mapaaga. Again, the situation kasi is not favorable to everyone, dahil nga sa pandemic," he said. "Hindi natin kontrol ngayon, it's beyond our control, and we just hope na matapos na 'to lahat para makabalik na sa normal 'yung lifestyle nating lahat."
At the moment, the entire league is taking a "day-to-day" approach on the matter.
"Kumbaga, magmamasid muna tayo sa situation, sa nangyayari dito sa atin," Duremdes said.
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