AS basketball fans grow impatient on the PBA's return, it's officials were forced to explain why the pro league's season has yet to get off the ground while ap upstart like the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup is already in full swing.
PBA vice chairman Bobby Rosales said strict quarantine restrictions that remain in place in Metro Manila and neighboring areas is preventing the league from getting the ball rolling in a season that was originally slated to begin on April 11.
The PBA opening was delayed to April 18 when COVID-19 cases spiked and postponed indefinitely when the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) placed the National Capital Region as well as the provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, Cavite, and Laguna under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“Right now, it’s the level of quarantine that we have in NCR,” said Rosales when asked during a press conference why the PBA has not played a single game this season while other leagues such as the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup have long started.
Areas under ECQ are off-limits to practices, scrimmages, and games of contact sports, even for professional leagues.
An alternate PBA plan to launch the season under a closed-circuit set-up at the Ynares Arena in Antipolo was derailed when the province of Rizal was included in the NCR-Plus bubble that went under a strict lockdown
“Originally, our plan was to really start April 18. As a matter of fact, we even considered a nearby area like Antipolo. If it would be easier in restriction, then we will be willing to hold that," Rosales, who is Terrafirma's representative to the board, said.
"Unfortunately, hindi lang NCR ang nalagay sa stricter category kaya naging NCR+. It really delayed the whole schedule. That’s how it is right now,” added Rosales.
In contrast, the inaugural tournament of the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup is being held in Alcantara, Cebu, which is under MGCQ (modified general community quarantine) and therefore allows scrimmages and games to be held under strict health protocols.
Rosales and other league officials, however, believe the season is closer to take-off.
The PBA is planning a closed-circuit set-up in which teams are restricted to home and venue. But the league will only get its season until all players, coaches, officials, and staff, as well as their families, get vaccinated.
The league hopes to do that by May to be able to start the season in June.
If circumstances won't allow that, the league still has an option to replicate the bubble season staged last year in Clark. The PBA has in fact received an offer from Ilocos Norte to host the bubble, relayed by Governor Matthew Manotoc.
“As a matter of fact, the commissioner received a proposal from Northern Luzon. All these options are on the table but there is so many factors to consider for the season to start, not only financially. There are factors,” said Rosales.