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The Games and Entertainment Board (GAB) on Monday praised the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) for putting together a viable model of self-regulation during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We really want to commend the PBA,” chairman Abraham Mitra said during a virtual press conference on Monday, just a few days before the competition’s scheduled reopening in Bacolor, Pampanga, next Wednesday.
“They know that what happens to their league also affects other leagues and other sports. We thank the PBA for its responsibility during this [challenging times],” he continued.
Asia’s pioneering pro league will reboot its stalled Philippine Cup at Don Honorio Ventura State University, less than an hour’s drive from the PBA’s selected lodging and practice venues in the cities of San Fernando, Angeles and the Municipality of Mexico.
The first cycle of COVID-19 screening was conducted on Monday. A five-day schedule is expected to be released Tuesday afternoon, once all results are known, league officials said.
Commissioner Willie Marcial previously said the league was adapting a more collaborative approach to move the season forward. A group of team skippers, he said, even volunteered to pay for living expenses during their stay in Pampanga so that the competition can continue during the pandemic.
But more than the initiative, Marcial knows it would be utmost discipline and prudence that will pull the PBA through if it pushes restrictions in Metro Manila.
“I said [the players] to ‘guard your ranks,’” he told Inquirer during an earlier interview.
The PBA was the first league last year to receive permission from the national government to continue playing games during the pandemic. The league saved its season through an expensive bio-secure project in October, also in Pampanga, and laid the groundwork for many bubble tournaments now being replicated by other leagues.
The PBA is once again at the forefront of Philippine sports, especially now that the Tokyo Olympics have ended and the National Basketball Association is off-season. Only this time the league hopes a less restrictive setup will work just as well.
With its delegation virtually inoculated with the vaccine, the PBA went for a semi-bubble that uses a home-venue-home route but ran tests on a weekly basis, improving on the old 14-day schedule. An additional antigen will also be done for teams that play every day, according to league officials.
“We thank the PBA for its responsibility and are very responsive to the changing times [brought on by] the pandemic,” said Mitra. INQ
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