MAHARLIKA Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) commissioner Kenneth Duremdes called the scrapping of the 2020-21 season as "birth pains" for the regional league as it copes with the effects of the coronavirus [COVID-19] pandemic.
"Like us in the MPBL, may birth pains 'yan. We're a very young league na very aggressive but we cannot deny it na may mga problema talaga dahil it's normal. Walang tournaments anywhere na nung inumpisahan nila is perfect agad," he said on Wednesday in Cedelf Tupas' Crossover Podcast.
The MPBL issued a memorandum on Monday pushing back the staging of its next season to June 2021.
Duremdes said that the decision got the green light from founder Sen. Manny Pacquiao and every team was consulted, although of course, there were still some who wanted to go through with the season.
"Collectively we decided to have a meeting with our founder and CEO Sen. Manny then recently lang, we came up with a resolution for everyone," he said. "I can say majority of their concern is the safety, health issues of everyone and that includes the players, the fans, and the venues."
"Na-consult naman yung mga teams but syempre, may mga teams talaga they want to play. Alam naman natin na may mga teams talaga na very passionate at gusto nilang magkaroon ng mga tournaments but right now, hindi nga tayo pwedeng magpalaro dahil bawal pa talaga so we have to follow the rules and the guidelines of the government first and foremost."
Tough of a choice as it was, Duremdes said that the MPBL just can't roll the dice when it comes to public safety.
"It’s very dangerous and that will be a big responsibility of the league. Ang hirap because you have to handle everything," he said.
"There are suggestions that everyone must undergo testing before playing and we can do that also in one venue. Para ma-monitor lahat, ma-quarantine lahat ng involved. But it’s easy to say, it’s really hard to execute.
"Ang planning pa lang niyan is mahirap na and aside from expenses, ang guidelines napakahirap. Napakaraming requirements from the government na hihingin mo, and kailangan tingnan kung secure ba talaga yung place na paglalaruan, everybody ba is safe? What if magkaroon ng lapses? Kasi ang dami mong responsibilities every game eh."
"The margin of error is very slim. Kumbaga konting pagkakamali mo lang diyan, imbis na nagbibigay ka ng entertainment kasi yan sa tao, mapapagalitan ka pa ngayon dahil sa ginagawa mo so mahirap."
Duremdes, though, assured that the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Cup playoffs, with four teams still remaining, will be played once the government allows contact sports to return.
He also reiterated a key point in the MPBL's recent memorandum advising the teams to give at least 20 percent of the contracted players' salaries during these hard times.
It's a difficult time for everyone, Duremdes agrees, and the PBA great just gave a firm advice to those current players to keep the faith and know that soon enough, basketball will come back.
"Just be strong mentally, ito yung pinakaimportante dito," he said. "Basketball players, I believe, athletic yan eh. Konting conditioning lang yan, back to form ka na ulit at babalik ka na ulit sa competitive form mo, but the crucial [part] is yung mental. Kailangan you have to be stronger at this point in time. Don’t think of anything else na you’re losing hope cause there’s a light at the end of the tunnel."