The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has a busy 47th season ahead as it returns to the classic three-conference format in an attempt to normalize its operations in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“We’re going back to three conferences for Season 47,” declared Chairman Ricky Vargas in a virtual presser Wednesday, held to disclose what the Board of Governors discussed during its planning session in Boracay over the weekend.
The league has only played a total of three tournaments in the last two seasons due to the prevailing health crisis, beginning with the Philippine Cup in 2020, which was held in a bubble set-up at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga.
Two conferences were run in the 46th season. First the all-Filipino wars, and then the Governors’ Cup that also marked the return of imports. Both tilts, though, got prolonged no thanks to the lockdowns imposed in Metro Manila.
Now, the PBA is reverting to its old format, with the season targeted to open on June 5 — barring, of course, any hitch because of the pandemic.
The Philippine Cup will run until September 2, and then take a month-long break to give way for Gilas Pilipinas’ Asian Games campaign in China.
The mid-season tourney Commissioner’s Cup will then be played from October 2 to January 25, with the league’s participation in the home-and-away East Asia Super League (EASL) being played in between.
Ultimately, the Governors’ Cup is slated from February 1 to May 10, where out-of-town games and an out-of-the country match will be held. The All-Star festivities are also planned to be held in that same stretch.
As the PBA returns to the old format, Vargas and Co. are projecting big earnings for the league after suffering losses due to the pandemic.
“We’re trying to recover,” said the TNT governor, who’s serving his fifth term as chief. “The pandemic, we lost about a hundred million, 45th season.
“Pero itong 46th season, naka-dalawang conference tayo, we netted about 48.8 million (pesos) so not bad, it’s a very positive process, a very positive news to us. ‘Di lang ‘yun, i think our cashflow also improved, so good ‘yon.”