MANILA, Philippines -- The PBA on Thursday announced that it is imposing stricter health protocols, just a week into its 46th season that is taking place at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The security measures were already implemented during Wednesday's PBA Philippine Cup games.
The league is now requiring those who are on the bench to wear face masks, including the coaching staff. Coaches who are giving out instructions can remove their mask intermittently, but are required to put it back as soon as possible.
Only those playing on the court are exempted from wearing masks.
Teams found violating this protocol will be given warnings. However, if the warnings are not heeded, they would be charged with a technical foul for improper bench decorum.
Seating arrangements on the bench are now also in effect. Players are assigned their respective seats through their jersey numbers, with teams informed of the arrangement upon arrival at the venue.
Personal belongings of the players such as towel, water bottle, mask, and other game essentials should be placed on the left side of his seat, while warmers, once the player is called to substitute, should also be left on his seat.
For players who have been subbed out, they can proceed to a "rest area" just beside the team bench where they can pause for a breather without a mask. Upon returning to their respective seats, players however, are required to wear back their face mask.
Commissioner Willie Marcial said the stricter protocols are part of the league's continuing effort to improve the safety of the players, coaches, and other personnel as the season progresses, as well as to aid close contact tracing.
Four games have already been rescheduled in accordance to the current health and safety protocols of the PBA.