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    PBA plan to bring Finals back to Manila faces IATF roadblock

    Oct 14, 2021
    PBA commissioner Willie Marcial
    Stringent IATF protocols stand in the way of the PBA's plan to bring the finals back to NCR.
    PHOTO: Gerry Ramos

    PLANS are afoot to bring the PBA Philippine Cup Finals to Manila pending the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

    There's a major roadblock, however, as the government wants the pro league to hold the best-of-seven championship series under a straight bubble set-up.

    The league held the early stages of the season-opening conference at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig in a semi-bubble format that restricted the movement of players, coaches, and staff to a home, venue and back to home.

    But after being forced to move to Bacolor, Pampanga after NCR was placed under a stringent lockdown, the league adopted an arrangement almost similar to last season's Clark bubble where teams were quartered either in hotels or rented villas.

    Sources said the IATF wants the PBA to adopt the same bubble setup in the event the league brings the best-of-seven championship series to Metro Manila.

    The PBA, however, wants to do away with the bubble.

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    “Ang nakalagay kasi doon, ‘Yes you can play in Manila, but you have to be in the bubble,” said Games and Amusement Board (GAB) chairman Baham Mitra. “Ang gusto ng PBA, to play in Manila, walang bubble. So medyo may deadlock tayo ng kaunti run.”

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      Quarantine protocol in the National Capital Region (NCR) is set to be lowered to Alert Level 3 as approved upon by the IATF starting on Oct. 16. But the IATF prohibits the staging of contact sports under such alert level.

      “Contact sports except those conducted under a bubble-type setup as provided for under relevant guidelines adopted by the IATF, Games and Amusement Board (GAB, and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), and approved by the LGU (Local Government Unit) where such games shall be held,” said in the IATF memorandum.

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      Black and white

      Mitra stressed the policy is in black and white.

      “Kung kami lang mas gusto namin, e. Pero remember, it’s not the GAB that does the policy. It’s just the GAB that implements the policy that is done by the IATF,” added Mitra.

      But regardless if it's a bubble or semi-bubble, audience will still not be allowed in the venue.

      If he were to be asked, the GAB chief said he preferred the league to finish the conference playing in a bubble since the situation will be a lot more manageable for the PBA with only two teams left in contention.

      “Finals na yan, two teams na lang, so i-confine na lang nila,” said Mitra.

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        Stringent IATF protocols stand in the way of the PBA's plan to bring the finals back to NCR.
        PHOTO: Gerry Ramos
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