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PBA targets Sept. 16 return to scrimmage

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Even the extension of general community quarantine in Metro Manila and its neighboring provinces has not dampened the PBA’s hopes of shifting its team practices into higher gear by the third week of September. 

In a report by the league’s official website, Asia’s pioneering pro league is keen to push through with its plans of gaining the government’s approval to allow its ball clubs to start holding scrimmages by Sept. 16.

At present, all PBA teams are limited to non-contact workouts by small batches, where only six people — four players, a coach or a trainer, and a health officer — are allowed inside the practice facility.

“We’re not discouraged by the extension of the GCQ status in Metro Manila,” Commissioner Willie Marcial was quoted as saying, as the capital and its nearby provinces will be under GCQ until Sept. 30

“We’ll write the IATF (Inter Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) a letter, and we hope that we’ll be granted permission to shift our training to a higher level this September.”

The report added that Marcial will also write letters to the bodies crafting the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) — the Department of Health, the Games and Amusements Board, and the Philippine Sports Commission.

All three were the signatories to the JAO that gave the go-signal to the PBA’s training re-start, as well as the training of other pro leagues such as the Philippines Football League and the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3.

The third-year commissioner’s confidence stems from the fact that the government has become more lenient, as it has allowed more businesses to reopen even in places remaining under GCQ.

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Ahead of the announcement, the Department of Trade and Industry has already allowed establishments offering personal grooming services, review and tutorial centers, and gyms to open starting Sept. 1.

At the same time, Marcial is continuing to craft proposed set-ups for the resumption of the league’s suspended season in preparation for his meeting with the members of the board of governors.

One of which is the bubble concept, where he and his team have been studying possible venues such as the SMART Araneta Coliseum, Clark, Subic, and Batangas, and even Dubai, and the costs of having such a set-up.

The PBA is hoping to resume its 45th season that has been suspended since March due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic even with a short tournament. The league targets an October return.

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