The PBA is motivated to hold scrimmages the best it could as part of its bid to gain the national government’s approval in staging Season 46.
Teams have been cleared by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to conduct five-on-five practices in areas under GCQ and MGCQ, and the league hopes that the pandemic-stricken cage wars will be given the green light next.
“‘Pag napatunayan natin na okay, successful ang scrimmages, hihingi na ako ng apela para maglaro na tayo ng official game,” Commissioner Willie Marcial said in a virtual press conference, Friday.
Stricter health and safety measures will be implemented in this pending return to practice, per Marcial, one of which is the updated testing protocols.
“Meron kaming bagong sistema para sa testing. Kailangan seven days before, na-swab ka, two days before na-swab ka na — at nasa amin ang resulta. Kung walang resulta, hindi makakalaro,” he explained.
Marcial shared that the league had also coordinated with the Batangas City LGU in ensuring that venue protocols would be followed strictly.
The city is among the locations for practices since it is under GCQ and has enough facilities to do so, namely the Batangas City Coliseum, Lyceum-Batangas, and Batangas State U–all of which had been inspected by the PBA.
“Inaano namin yung mga taong papasok, ‘yung kung sino lang papasok. Sabi ko nga, kung sa gym na personnel nila, tatlo o apat na tao lang–pero wala pa sa court. Talagang sa labas lang sila,” said Marcial.
“‘Yung vicinity ng gym, gated yun, so hihigpitan namin lalo. Pasensya na po sa mga fans pati na po sa mga taga-Batangas, naghihigpit lang po kami at ‘yun po ang request ni Mayor [Beverley] Dimacuha–higpitan talaga.”
And among the league’s plans to ensure that members of all 12 teams will comply with the standard protocols is to impose penalties on violators — stricter than the ones it had for the Clark bubble in Pampanga last year.
Back then, those who will be caught won’t be paid a month’s salary by their teams. They will also have to pay a P100,000 fine to the league and serve a five-game suspension in the following season.
“Lalakihan natin ‘yan,” the fourth-year league chief said. “Hindi lalayo diyan yung penalties natin sa Clark na 100K, suspension for 10 days. Malaki ‘yan. Lalakihan natin yan kasi gusto nga natin maging successful.
“Hindi naman para sa kanila lang ‘to, para sa kapwa nila players, sa kapwa nilang teammates, kasama sa team, at sa mga pamilya nila at sa pamilya rin ng team members nila. Sana maintindihan nila.”
Marcial said that the league will closely monitor all members, and he hopes that they will all be as transparent as possible.
“Meron tayong app na imo-monitor natin sila,” he said. “Tulad ng tinanong sa’kin ng Task Force, ‘Papaano mo imo-monitor? ‘Boss, honesty [system] lang talaga.’
“Oras na malaman namin na hindi nila ni-log o may pinuntahan sila, nalaman namin, nahuli namin, may pruweba kami na nilabag nila yung protocols, ‘yun. Suspension, fine, or both ang ibibigay natin sa player.”
The league, though, understands that there could be urgent situations that require their full attention. And if ever they would need to get out of their homes to attend to such, Marcial said that they simply have to notify the league.
“Sabihin lang sa’min kasi may katumbas na protocol ‘yan,” he said. “Hindi naman pwedeng emergency tapos ‘di ka na lalabas. Sabihin lang sa’min. may katumbas na protocol yan na ibibigay namin sa kanila.“