MANILA, Philippines -- An apologetic Willie Marcial said fans are barred from coming to the practices of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) teams when they resume in the coming weeks.
Fans are generally welcome to attend and watch team practices, where they can interact with the players afterward to ask for pictures and autographs.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will have to cease.
"Sorry po sa mga fans. Kahit sa mga media," Marcial said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
"Hindi kayo pwedeng pumunta sa practices… Talagang hindi pwede, as of now," he added. "Sana maintindihan po niyo na bawal na muna."
The PBA received the go-signal from the government to resume practices last July 3, but the league is waiting for official documents from the Inter-Agency Task Force and the Games and Amusements Board before officially allowing teams to train again.
Players and coaches also have to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to practices.
Each team will use its own private practice facility in order to minimize the chances of contracting or spreading the disease, said Marcial. They are also required to have the venues disinfected to a hospital standard before using them.
As fans are not allowed to physically interact with their favorite players in the meantime, the league is planning some virtual events for them.
"Dire-diretso kami sa online, wala kaming tigil," said Marcial. "Patuloy kaming (gagawa) sa online, at madaragdagan pa ngayon."
An online skills competition, three-point shootout, and slam dunk contest is in the works, the commissioner confirmed.
"Ipoporma na lang namin by next week, kasi mga players 'yan eh. Kakausapin din namin 'yung players," he added.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).