PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial is extremely grateful now that the league can buckle down to work once again following Monday’s signing of the Joint Administrative Order for the resumption of training.
The respective heads of the Games and Amusement Board, the Philippine Sports Commission, and the Department of Health finally signed the JAO, allowing pro sports to return at least to practices.
“Unang-una, nagpapasalamat ako sa government natin at pinayagan na tayo mag-practice,” the amiable executive told Tiebreaker Times over the phone, a few hours after the said development.
The league should have returned to practices — guided by its own set of strict protocols that features per-batch workouts — last July 22, but saw that pushed back as it was still waiting for the implementing guidelines.
Now that the PBA has finally received the green light, the Commissioner’s Office’s next move is to have all teams undergo swab testing before they can determine the date of their training resumption.
According to Marcial, the league has been coordinating with the Makati Medical Center and is just now awaiting word from the health care institution for the schedule of testing for teams.
“Ang susunod na hakbang namin, testing. Swab testing. Nakikipag-coordinate na tayo [na] sa Makati Med na tayo kasi ‘yung San Miguel, okay dapat ‘yung San Miguel, kaya nila ng ilang daan. Ang problema lang yung resulta. Ang resulta by 50s, so made-delay. So nakausap natin ang Makati Med, na MVP group din, na within two days makukuha natin ‘yung resulta,” he said.
“Hinihintay namin ‘yung schedule nila kasi alam ko within this week, puno raw eh. Lahat ng teams, pwera ‘yung three teams ng San Miguel, Makati Med, at inaano natin ‘yung schedule. And within two days dapat nakuhanan na sila, tapos after two days makukuha natin ‘yung resulta. So siguro ‘pag nagpa-swab na sila, maglalagay na tayo kung kailan sila pwede mag-practice.”
That may cause some delay in the restart, but the health and safety of all is of utmost importance. Marcial added, “Hindi naman ako pwede magsimula ng hindi sila nate-test.”
“Ang sa’kin nga, tulad ng sinabi ko sa mga ManCom ko, eh basta safety first. ‘Wag natin madaliin kung ano talaga dapat,” added Marcial.
“Gusto talaga natin [magsimula na] pero ito ang binibigay ng pagkakataon.”
Still, the resumption of practice is good news for the PBA and pro sports in general. And with that, Marcial is optimistic that the league’s 45th season — which has been suspended since March 11 — could still continue.
“Ganun pa rin ako, umaasa ako.
“Tulad ng sinabi ko, in a scale of one to ten, seven to eight. ‘Yun ang ano ko na magkakaroon pa tayo ng isang season,” expressed the third-year commissioner.
Regarding the season resumption. Marcial said that the board will decide by September. The decision was originally set for August, but the recent developments made Marcial move it a month later.
“Sinabihan ko na rin ang board, kung pwedeng i-desisyon by September — ‘di ba dapat August kami magdesisyon kung tuloy o hindi? So by September, titignan natin ‘yung lagay natin. Dun pa lang tayo magdedesisyon.”