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PBA says it will be gauge of PH sports return

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Tiebreaker Times PBA says it will be gauge of PH sports return Basketball News PBA  Willie Marcial Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum PBA Season 45 Eric Castro Coronavirus Pandemic

Despite the uncertainty of the situation due to the global pandemic, the PBA remains optimistic it can resume its stalled 45th season before the year ends.

Commissioner Willie Marcial believes there is a very good chance the league will be able to restart operations and hold even just one conference for its 2020 calendar, which has been greatly affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

He rated the chances of a PBA return at seven when asked on a scale of 1-10 during Tuesday’s webcast of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.

“Seven to eight sa akin na matutuloy. Ako, sa akin, makakalaro pa talaga tayo kahit isang conference this year,” said Marcial, who was joined by deputy commissioner and head of PBA operations Eric Castro in the weekly session.

At the moment, the league is awaiting the response of the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) on the PBA Board-approved protocols it submitted in the hope of paving the way for teams to at least start practicing even by small groups as soon as possible.

Castro said the formal letter was sent to the agency last week, with co-chairpersons Karlo Nograles and Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque both copy furnished.

Marcial has no definite timeline as to the IATF reply, but stressed a positive response would not only be to the benefit of Asia’s pioneering pro league, but for most of Philippine sports as well.

“Kapag pinayagan ang PBA, hindi lang basketball. Baka lahat ng sports, dahan-dahan na papayagan na ‘yan,” said the commissioner in the forum presented by San Miguel Corp., Go-For-Gold, Amelie Hotel, Braska Restaurant, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), and powered by Smart.

“Malaking bagay talaga itong ginawa ng PBA. Dahan-dahan ‘yan. Hindi lang basketball, pati ibang sports matutulungan natin.”

Castro added, “PBA will be a gauge for most of our sports. We can set as a model for other events. So I hope i-consider ng IATF ‘yung request natin. So it will be a step-by-step. Again practice, and then later on kung mag-MGCQ (Moderate General Community Quarantine) tayo, we can proceed to our games.”

The restart of other contact leagues overseas, including the return of the NBA season by July 31, is likewise a good test case the country’s top sports entertainment can bank on for the possible resumption of its season.

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“Nakikita nila (Task Force) hindi lang NBA, pati EuroLeague, football, ‘yung baseball yata magsisimula na rin. At ibang basketball leagues sa China, Korea. So malaking bagay sa amin ‘yun,” said the PBA chief.

“Makakatulong ‘yun para ma-convince ang Task Force. Malaking tulong ‘yung mga liga na ‘yun. Maliit man o malaking liga, makakatulong sa PBA.”

Once allowed to resume its games, the PBA will pick up from where it left off and carry on with the Philippine Cup. Five-time defending champion San Miguel defeated Magnolia, 94-78, in the season inaugural last March 8 before the league decided to shut down operations three days after following the widespread outbreak of the pandemic.

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