NLEX coach Yeng Guiao is in favor of allowing PBA teams to return to training at the soonest possible time but under strict health protocols, saying it will provide job security for players, coaches, and other team staff.
The veteran coach fears jobs will be at risk if the league waits until a vaccine against the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease is discovered before resuming the season.
“Ang sa akin kasi, dalawa lang ang option mo. Number one option is you wait for a vaccine, which we don’t know when. Maybe one year or one and a half years? There is consequence in doing that. Baka wala ka nang trabaho kung hihintayin mo ‘yun. Wala kang sweldo,” Guiao said.
“The other option is to change your behavior according to these protocols. Sa tingin ko, dun tayo sa second option. Wala na ‘yung first option natin eh,” said Guiao.
The PBA has taken the first step in its bid to resume practices by submitting a letter to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) seeking permission for the teams' return to training under strict guidelines.
Guiao agreed that players with health concerns should be given the option not to participate in practices. But while he understands the risks, Guiao said players are generally healthy, and the risks can be mitigated by the protocols.
“Kasama sa protocols na ‘yan is protect the most vulnerable. Sa team namin, kapag meron kang diabetes, may heart problem ka, may asthma ka, heavy smoker ka, may kidney problem ka, meron kang health issues, hindi ka pipiliting mag-punta sa practice. We’ve covered all of those,” he said.
“Pero kung malakas ang katawan mo, player ka, healthy ka, tamaan ka, baka hindi mo nga alam na tinamaan ka eh or at the very least, meron kang mga symptoms eh. We take that into consideration. Kung pipiliin mo ‘yung first option, walang mangyayari sa akin. Nganga ka lang, tunganga ka lang,” said Guiao.
“It is not a zero-risk thing. May risk talaga. But I think you can manage the risk with those protocols,” he added.
Guiao said NLEX already have protocols in place in the lead-up to the formal resumption of practice. The Road Warriors have recently undergone COVID-19 tests and all came up negative of the disease.
The key, the veteran coach added, is to maintain discipline in every level of the team chain.
“The general concept is ‘yung assumption namin na wala kaming sakit at nagpa-test kami. Our assumption namin dito is within our homes and families, we have to maintain the integrity of that bubble. Pine-preserve mo ‘yan. Wala kang pinapapasok, hindi ka lumalabas. Maintenance of that bubble is very important from the point of ‘yung household,” he said.
“Now, when you go to practice, you are enlarging that bubble kasi may nami-meet ka na. It’s important for the other people you are going to get in contact with that they are also preserving their bubble para hindi ma-breach ‘yun. ‘Yun ang concept.
"Once we have maintained that small bubble, we will then try to include our teammates in small groups and then in bigger groups. Everybody has to have that discipline to preserve that bubble not only for yourself but also for the rest of the team,” Guiao said.
“Kapag nagkita kami sa practice, kapag nagkita kami sa environs ng weight rooms namin or court, we are assured that wala kang sakit at wala rin akong sakit. If you ever display symptoms, you have to quarantine and you have to get in touch with our doctor. Pero maraming details ‘yun,” Guiao said.