MANILA, Philippines -- San Miguel point guard Chris Ross has been invited to attend a dialogue with Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) commissioner Willie Marcial later this month, ahead of the league's planned return to practices.
Marcial said last week that he will invite two players per team in a "kamustahan session" on June 23, to check up on how they have been throughout the quarantine period, as well as to give them a forum to ask questions regarding the PBA's plans.
Ross is one of two San Miguel players invited by Marcial, after the veteran guard made statements on social media questioning the league's plan of action.
"Risking personal and family safety so that we can train now for games that won’t start until earliest September?!? What’s the rush?" Ross tweeted last June 3.
A day later, he reiterated his trust in Marcial and the PBA Board of Governors, saying they "have our and our families safety at the top of the list when discussing this and will make the best decision for everyone involved."
Speaking in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday, Marcial revealed that Ross is not alone in his opinion.
"Meron. May nakakausap ako," Marcial answered when asked if there were others who shared Ross's sentiments. "Simula noong nag-ano ng pandemic, halos nagtatawagan kami ng mga players, ang dami kong kausap, tumatawag sa akin, tinatawagan ko. Meron din."
This is why Marcial wants to meet with the players personally in the PBA office, as opposed to a virtual conference.
"Gusto ko makaharap sila. Gusto kong face-to-face sila… Mas gusto kong nakikita ang emosyon nila," he explained. "Mas gusto kong harap sila, kaharap sila na kinakausap ko. Mas palagay ako doon at makikita mo ang sinseridad ng tao pag harapan kayo.
He assured that all safety protocols will be done and proper physical distancing will be observed.
"Dito natin gagawin sa lobby. Kita niyo kung gaano kalaki naman 'yun eh," he said. "Lalagyan namin ng mga upuan, ayusin na namin 'yun. Lahat 'yun may mga alcohol, kumpleto 'yun."
Aside from Ross, the PBA has also invited LA Tenorio and Mark Caguioa from Barangay Ginebra, Marc Pingris and Paul Lee from Magnolia, and Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario from TNT KaTropa.
The PBA last week submitted a set of protocols to the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force regarding the teams' return to practices. Marcial had described the protocols as "strict," with the league imposing a "no test, no return" policy on players and coaches.
The commissioner said he understands Ross's concerns, and even shares them. However, he also stressed that the PBA needs to take steps towards its return at some point.
"Lahat tayo, nangangamba. Pero, kailan pa tayo gagalaw? Kailan pa tayo sisimulan natin itong pag-asa na inaasam-asam natin?" said Marcial. "'Yun lang ang sa akin."
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