MPBL stands by decision not to allow Basilan Steel to play in Subic ‘bubble’

MPBL COMMISSIONER KENNETH DUREMDES (center) said the league acted in good faith when it did not allow the Basilan team to play in the playoff bubble in Subic over health and safety concerns. — MPBL

THE Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) is standing by its decision not to allow Basilan-Jumbo Plastic Steel in the recent playoffs of the league done in a “bubble” setting inside the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority in Zambales.

On Tuesday, MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes spoke on the issue, saying that they acted in the best interest of the league in relation to the ongoing situation with the pandemic and was done in good faith in accordance with the health and safety guidelines given to them by the authorities.

The MPBL official also addressed efforts by Basilan on social media to discredit the league, saying they are “uncalled for.”

“I thank God that nobody tested positive inside the bubble… We were very strict in implementing the DoH (Department of Health) guideline. Based on it, in the event one person tested positive inside the bubble, they will cancel the event. Ensuring the safety and health of everyone was important for us and to make sure the bubble was held successfully,” said Mr. Duremdes, whose group had to wait for a year to resume its Lakan Season after the pandemic brought it to a halt last year.

Basilan was supposed to play eventual league champions Davao Occidental-Cocolife Tigers in a do-or-die match for the South division crown last March 10. But two members of its delegation tested positive for the coronavirus upon their arrival in Subic.

According to Mr. Duremdes right then and there, the Basilan team was supposed to be sent back to Manila as the Steel delegation travelled to Subic in one vehicle.

“According to our medical experts, since the team traveled together, all of them are considered as close contacts and as per the guideline they are automatically out. But they (Steel) appealed for re-swabbing and after consulting with our medical team headed by Dr. Aris Cabigao, we agreed, Re-swabbing was for seven days,” shared Mr. Duremdes.

As all parties were waiting for the re-swabbing, it was agreed upon that if no one tested positive from the Basilan team in the re-swabbing, it would be allowed to enter the bubble. But in the event, there was a positive case the team had to forfeit its game.

Mr. Duremdes said the decision was clear with the Basilan team officials, who, in turn, agreed to it.

Basilan had its retest on March 15. A day later, it yielded four positive cases, resulting in Basilan’s win-or-go-home game against Davao Occidental being called a no-contest.

The Steel criticized the league for its action after, saying they were treated unfairly and demanded the decision to be overturned.

They, too, asked that they be given the full refund of their expenses for the past season and called for the resignation of MPBL officials.

Mr. Duremdes hit out at the efforts to discredit the league, saying how unfair they are.

He said that the same process would have been done if Davao Occidental, San Juan-Go for Gold Knights and Makati Super Crunch, the other teams that saw action in the bubble, were on the same boat as Basilan.

Despite the issue, the MPBL commissioner is thankful that the Lakan Season was given the conclusion it needed, with Davao Occidental emerging as champion, beating San Juan in a tightly fought best-of-five finals series, 3-1. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo