MANILA, Philippines -- The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) is in talks with several possible venues that can host the remainder of its 2019-2020 Lakan Season.
The MPBL playoffs were already at the division finals phase when games were halted in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Both the North and South division finals were tied at one game apiece and headed to a knockout game when the competition was stopped.
According to MPBL commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, the league is determined to finish the tournament, even though the government has yet to give a go signal for the resumption of amateur sports.
"As per our founder, Senator Manny Pacquiao, kailangan talagang tapusin 'yung national finals, 'yung Lakan Season," Duremdes said in an appearance at the PSA Forum, Tuesday.
"But 'yun nga, hindi tayo makagalaw sa ngayon dahil for the past few months, 'di pa ina-allow ang amateur basketball. Tayo naman, sumusunod sa gobyerno, sa IATF guidelines and protocols," he added.
The league has already sent a request to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), asking permission to resume the Lakan Season. Duremdes said that once they get approval, the four remaining teams will be given a month to prepare, before they resume the playoffs in a "bubble."
In the North division, San Juan and Makati are tied at one game apice. In the South division, Davao Occidental and Basilan are also tied at 1-1.
According to Duremdes, they have gotten offers from local government units who want to host the "bubble."
"'Yun ang pinaka-importante muna, may nagi-sponsor sa atin. Hopefully, 'yun ang next step. Mag-aantay tayo ng decision ng IATF, regarding doon sa protocols and guidelines para kami rin ay makapag-ready na," he said.
Even the Araneta Coliseum has also offered to host the bubble, according to Duremdes. Former Senator Jinggoy Estrada also offered their private property in Tanay, Rizal as a possible venue, and Duremdes has also received offers from Subic.
For the PBA legend, it will be easy for the MPBL to hold the rest of its playoffs in a "bubble," given that there are only four teams left -- two of which will be eliminated almost immediately. The national finals is a best-of-five affair.
"Ang mangyayari niyan, first day pa lang may matatanggal na. Two teams na lang ang maiiwan for the national finals, so mas madali siya i-control," said Duremdes.
"It's easy for us to set up a bubble-type tournament," he stressed.
But Duremdes also made it clear that their primary focus is the health and safety of the participants.
"Mahirap mag-gamble dito," he pointed out. "Once na magkamali ka, hindi lang basketball ang apektado dito. No. 1, health ng players. No. 2, baka other sports, maapektuhan din."
"You have to be careful, dahil damay-damay lahat 'yan. 'Pag sumablay, I'm sure ititigil ng gobyerno 'yan. So we have to be careful," he said.