MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is determined to wrap up its 45th season before Christmas, in the hopes of starting the new season in a more "normal" format.
After suspending its activities in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the PBA is set to restart the All-Filipino Cup in "bubble" in Clark this October.
Games are tipped to start on October 9, with double-headers scheduled daily. Teams will play a single round robin elimination round, with the top four seeds earning a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinals. The semifinals will be a best-of-5 affair, while the Finals will be best-of-7.
"That's the intention. Hopefully, (we end) by December 9. We probably have a new champion. We have a new champion of the pandemic and a champion for the All-Filipino," said PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas.
According to PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, even if the restart of the season is delayed, they will still end before Christmas.
Among possible reasons for a delay is a prolonged wait for approval from the Inter-Agency Task Force, as the PBA needs the go-signal from the government before heading into the bubble.
Marcial says they can delay the restart until October 11 or 13.
"Pag inurong namin 'yun, ang katapusan nga, katulad ng sinabi ni Chairman, December 9 or 10. Magiging 13, 16 na 'yun," he said. "Baka naman awayin na ako ng mga asawa ng mga players."
Marcial says he won't allow the season to last until December 15.
"Pinipilit ko, December 10, December 13. Nine, 10, 13. Kasi aawayin ako ng mga pamilya ng mga players," he added.
If everything works out, the league may even hold the PBA Rookie Draft by the end of December.
The plan is for the PBA to then open its new season in early 2021.
"We also would like to go back to normal," Vargas explained. "We can start the new conference, the new season as early as possible."
"We're looking at February or March, but that's all uncertain. That's all uncertain," he admitted.
The PBA submitted its request to the IATF to resume its season in the Clark bubble on Friday. According to Vargas, they are being supported by Vince Dizon, the president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and the testing czar of the IATF, as well as Noel Maninkil, the chief executive officer of the Clark Development Corporation.
They are also endorsed by Games and Amusements Board chairman Baham Mitra and Sen. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go.
"At the end of the day, sabi nga nila, we need to follow all that IATF and the Department of Health protocols are. And we will do that, we will do that. And we will patiently wait for their approval," said Vargas in an appearance on "Power and Play" on Saturday.