THE continuous threat of the COVID-19 had a huge say on the PBA’s participation in the inaugural home-and-away tournament of the East Asia Super League (EASL).
The league's board of governors decided to defer joining the regional meet's planned October opener until a vaccine for the pandemic is available in the country.
The decision was made during the first PBA board meeting for 2021 on Thursday afternoon.
As the pioneering play-for-pay league in Asia, the PBA was top of mind of the EASL organization for its rebooted tournament that will also feature top ballclubs from leagues in China, South Korea, and Japan.
“Naka-hold muna the decision to join East Asia Super League (EASL) hanggang wala pang vaccine,” said commissioner Willie Marcial following the board of governors meeting.
“Hindi namin kino-close ang door. Hinihintay lang muna namin ang vaccine. But as of now, naka-hold ang (pagsali natin) sa East Asia Super League.”
Upon learning of the board decision, the EASL said it still look forward to having the PBA as part of the family in the future.
"EASL supports the Philippines' battle against the virus, and looks forward to continuing in good faith discussions with the PBA," it said in a statement.
Marcial said he expects a new round of talks with EASL CEO Matt Beyer once the league has already full access with the COVID-19 vaccines.
"Kapag andiyan na yung vaccines mag-uusap ulit kami with EASL," said the PBA chief.
The EASL has all the groundworks covered for its grand launching in the final quarter of the year that will have two ballclubs from the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), Korean Basketball League (KBL), the Japan B.League, and the PBA competing in a home-and-away meet that offers a $1 million prize money to the champion.
The eight teams will be divided into two groups, with the top two teams in each bracket advancing to the Final Four.
The meet, which is sanctioned by FIBA, will run for five months.
The PBA has already been participating in EASL tournaments in the past including the Terrific 12 held in 2019 where San Miguel, TnT Tropang Giga, and Black Water represented the local league.