THE PBA remains on a wait-and-see mode on the opening of its 46th season next month amid the sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Commissioner Willie Marcial admitted everything remains hanging in the balance for the league until the government-mandated General Community Quarantine (GCQ) within the National Capital Region and neighboring provinces Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal expires by April 4.
The league is looking to kick off the Philippine Cup on April 18 after moving it from April 11. Originally, it was eyeing to open the season on April 9 in time for its 46th anniversary celebration.
“Tingnan natin. Abangan natin after April 4 kung ano na ang desisyon ng gobyerno. From there, doon tayo magsisimula kung paano,” said Marcial on Sunday.
The PBA chief said the league board might convene for a special meeting shortly after the Holy Week.
A total of 7,757 new cases were registered on Sunday, marking the third straight day the number went over the 7,000 mark, including 7,999 on Saturday, the highest ever in the country since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcial admitted the spike in new cases is indeed, alarming.
“Concerned tayo hindi lang sa opening natin, pero concerned tayo para sa buong Pilipinas,” he said.
Although the commissioner has a bit doubt on an April 18 opening, he’s keeping his fingers crossed the league would still be able to start the season even late in the month.
“Pero hoping pa rin ako na this April matuloy pa rin tayo,” he said.
Following the increase in the number of cases, Rizal has reverted back to GCQ after previously being under Moderate General Community Quarantine (MGCQ).
The league earlier bared its intention to hold the Philippine Cup games at the Ynares Center in Antipolo since games and contact sports are not allowed in areas under GCQ.
“Kaya nga malalaman natin yan lahat after April 4. So talagang concerned tayo sa buong bansa. Kaya kailangan talagang magdasal hindi lang para sa opening pero para sa ating lahat,” he said.
Marcial remained mum about reports of several PBA players testing positive for COVID-19 recently, but said there are teams concerned about holding group practices due to the health restrictions being implemented by the Local Government Units (LGUs) where their respective training facilities are located.
“Wala pa akong balita sa mga LGUs, pero yung mga teams pinatanong ko, e. Magpa-practice sila bukas (Monday), at least eight to nine teams,” he said.
At the same time, under the new IATF guidelines released on Sunday, non-contact sports are still allowed to be held as long as social distancing and other strict protocols are followed.
“Yung nilabas naman na guidelines, puwede ang non-contact (sports). So sa pagkaka-alam ko puwede tayo. Yun naman ang ginagawa natin before, group workouts na may social distancing. Wala tayong scrimmages,” said Marcial.