Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
WHEN Season 46 of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will start remains up in the air, but the league is staying proactive and weighing all options to get the ball rolling at the soonest possible time.
Originally set to begin on April 18, the new PBA season was deferred to a still-to-be-determined date, now dependent on whether the number of coronavirus cases will go down, league officials had been told by the government.
The league, however, remains hopeful that the coronavirus situation here will swing for the better just as it is seeking ways to augment the immediate start of its delayed season.
One of the things it is currently looking at is finding an alternate venue for its member teams to at least begin training and scrimmages in preparation for the eventual start of the season, with Batangas City as a possible venue.
With Metro Manila and the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna still under stricter quarantine restrictions and are not allowed to host any sporting activities, the PBA is hoping to squeeze in preparatory work by going outside said areas.
“Batangas is near [Metro Manila] and has more relaxed restrictions. Maybe, it can accommodate us. It is important that the teams get to scrimmage and prepare before the season starts,” said PBA governor Alfrancis Chua of Barangay Ginebra in a media briefing last week.
Mr. Chua and PBA commissioner Willie Marcial met with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Senator Bong Go in Malacañang last Wednesday where they presented the league’s recalibrated plans for its Season 46.
They said the officials were warm to the idea of staging the new season but underscored that it all hinges on whether the pandemic situation in the country, particularly the number of coronavirus cases, will improve in the coming weeks.
The PBA’s request, they said, was to be forwarded to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) for review and approval.
The league is hoping to at least begin Season 46 by June so it can still stage a two-conference season designed to give local basketball fans more action amid the pandemic.
At the weekend, the PBA’s Batangas push gained significant headway as Mr. Marcial reported that the local officials agreed to host the practices of the teams.
The PBA official said he spoke to both Batangas City Mayor Beverley Dimacuha and Congressman Marvey Marino, who expressed their willingness to have their city as a venue pending approval of other requirements.
“The LGU has agreed to host us. Now, we have to fulfil the requirements under the JAO (Joint Administrative Order) of the Department of Health, Games and Amusements Board, and Philippine Sports Commission. After that, and upon approval, maybe our teams can start practices in May,” said Mr. Marcial.
He went on to say that venues committed by the LGU are the Batangas City Coliseum and Batangas State University Gym.
The league is set to meet with authorities of Batangas City in the coming days to further thresh out details, including health and safety protocols, of the hosting.
Other matters the league is working on are the availability of vaccines for the entire PBA family, which it sees as providing stability and flexibility for the league in pushing for its plans moving forward; and crafting measures to cushion the impact of the pandemic on its financials.
The PBA only had one tournament played last year because of the pandemic under a “bubble” setup held at Clark City in Angeles, Pampanga.