MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) Blackwater Elite found itself in hot water after the team made an early return to practice, ahead of the go-signal of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and other agencies.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial is seeking an explanation from the team, while Games and Amusement Board (GAB) chairman Abraham Mitra is likely to sanction the squad as well.
Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy said in an appearance on One Sports' "Sports Page" program that the team has started to conduct workouts, while following the protocols set by the PBA.
However, the PBA has yet to give an official go-signal for teams to return to practices, despite getting permission from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) last July 3.
"Sinulatan ko si Mr. Silliman (Sy)," Marcial said in a phone interview with ABS-CBN News, referring to Blackwater's representative to the PBA Board of Governors.
"Binigyan natin ng letter, hinihintay ko lang ang sagot. Siguro, within this week, magbibigay ng sagot," he added. "Gusto lang nating maliwanagan."
The PBA's request for explanation is a separate matter from that of the GAB, Marcial added.
GAB's Mitra said that Blackwater "violated the omnibus guidelines of the IATF on safety protocols."
"The joint administrative order of GAB, PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) and DOH (Department of Health), plus the IATF resolution has not yet come out, and they violated the restrictions," Mitra said in a message to ABS-CBN News.
Mitra said that Blackwater may incur fines or suspensions because of this incident. The agency has sent a letter to the Elite, also addressed to Silliman Sy, so as they can explain their side.
Marcial stressed that PBA teams should wait for the official go-signal before resuming practices. He had already fined Ginebra veteran Japeth Aguilar and Rain or Shine rookie Adrian Wong, after the two were caught taking part in a 5-on-5 scrimmage recently.
"Sinabi ko na 'yan kay Japeth pa lang eh," Marcial said. "Talagang hindi pa pwede, kasi maano tayo ng Task Force."
The PBA is looking at returning to practices by next week. Marcial said they are just waiting for the testing of teams to be completed, and for them to receive the official guidelines from the IATF
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).