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    As PBA gears up for resumption, D-League cancels season

    Sep 29, 2020
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    SO long for the 10th season of the PBA D-League.

    PBA commissioner Willie Marcial has pulled the plug on the developmental league's halted season.

    "Next year na ulit yung D-League natin," he said on Tuesday ahead of the league's resumption in inside the Clark bubble.

    Marcial previously expressed optimism about the resumption of games after the first conference was postponed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Only eight games across three playdates were held, with Builders Warehouse-UST, EcoOil-La Salle, and Marinerong Pilipino seizing the early Aspirants Cup lead with 2-0 records.

    The PBA had set an August deadline to decide on whether to push through with the D-League games, but the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Emerging Infectious Diseases only allowed professional teams to return to practice and eventually, resume its games.

    A big problem for the PBA D-League was that 11 of the 12 participating teams in the Aspirants' Cup were school-based squads.

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    "Mahirap para sa atin kasi karamihan ng players, amateurs eh. And then of course, majority ng kasali this conference ay collegiate teams at hindi pa sila pinapayagan ng gobyerno na makabalik kahit sa practice o scrimmage pa lang," Marcial said.

    Only Marinerong Pilipino was considered as a club team in the field, but most of the Skippers, led by brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano, are all still amateurs.

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    Marcial, however, assured that teams who opt to continue their participation in the next PBA D-League season next year are already assured of their spots once the developmental league returns.

    "Kasama na sila dun sa 12 teams. Sigurado na sila na kasali pag bumalik yung D-League. Parang naka-deposit sa amin yung participation fee nila," said the affable executive.

    Meanwhile, teams which faced financial duress during the pandemic, specifically Technological Institute of the Philippines which saw its athletics program dissolved last May, were granted refunds.

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    "Actually, nakuha na nga ng TIP yung refund. Naibalik na ng PBA sa kanila," said Marcial.

    It's the same case for teams that decide to no longer take part next season.

    PBA deputy commissioner Eric Castro, though, hopes that the action in the PBA D-League can return soon.

    "The PBA D-League is there to serve as a springboard for our amateur players to get the necessary exposure they need before they make the jump to the PBA, and it's a testament, too, that collegiate teams have taken advantage of the heightened competition we have in preparation for their mother leagues," he said. "So we're all wishing for everything to go back to normal so that we can stage D-League tournaments again."

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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