Pro leagues willing to extend helping hand, share protocols

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 14 2020 06:22 PM

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial and Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 commissioner Eric Altamirano.

MANILA, Philippines -- After getting government approval to start their leagues, both the PBA and Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 expressed their desire to help other sports get off the ground as well despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PBA is already holding the Philippine Cup in a bubble in Clark, Pampanga, while Chooks 3x3 is set to start the President's Cup in Calamba, Laguna later this month. Seven of the pioneering 3x3 league's 12 teams are already inside Inspire Sports Academy, where they will hold the tournament.

During an appearance at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday morning, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial encouraged other leagues not to lose hope, even as the global health crisis has wreaked havoc on the country's sporting events.

"Huwag po tayong mawalan ng pag-asa," said Marcial. "Ito na po 'yung PBA, na kami siguro 'yung batayan kung mabibigyan tayo.

"Hindi lang po sa basketball. Sa lahat po ng sports, sana po maka-simula na tayo. Ito na po ang PBA, naka-simula na kami," he added.

It has not been an easy road back to action for the PBA, or for any professional league in the country, for that matter. It was not until late August that a tripartite agreement among the Games and Amusements Board, the Philippine Sports Commission, and the Department of Health was signed, which finally gave pro sports the green light to resume small group training sessions.

The PBA received approval to hold a bubble in Clark in September, and games officially began last Sunday. So far, things are running smoothly in Clark, according to Marcial.

"Ang daming humihingi sa akin na protocols sa iba't ibang sports. So binigyan po natin," he said. "Kung anong kailangan niyong tulong, may mga tanong po kayo kung papaano, sasabihin namin sa inyo."

"Hindi lang po sa PBA or basketball, sa lahat po ng sports na humingi sa akin ng protocol, binigyan po natin," he added.

Chooks 3x3 encountered some roadblocks, with the Inter-Agency Task Force thumbing down their initial proposal of a "semi-bubble." This prompted the league to reshape their plans, and they will now hold the President's Cup in the fully secured Inspire campus.

After what they went through just to get government approval, Chooks 3x3 commissioner Eric Altamirano is more than willing to help other leagues get going as well.

"Yes, definitely, we are willing to share 'yung protocols," he said. "Whatever protocols we were able to come up with for this league, we are willing to share it."

"The more leagues that will open, for us I think we'll be very happy and be very open to these leagues opening again," he added. 

Aside from the PBA and Chooks 3x3, the Philippines Football League is also set to start its own season. Other leagues, however, have yet to receive the go-signal from the government to start again, including volleyball leagues such as the Philippine Superliga and the Premier Volleyball League, as well as the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.