Filbasket ‘alarmed’ by GAB threat but plans to push through with October 28 opening

Filbasket insisted it has met all the government’s requirements for the staging of a basketball league in the midst of the pandemic, vowing to push through with its October 28 tip-off.

League founder Jai Reyes said Filbasket has coordinated with all the relevant government agencies for the safety of the entire league during its inaugural season held in Subic, Zambales.

On Friday, the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) threatened a lawsuit against Filbasket if its October 28 opening continues, claiming the league didn’t have the green light of GAB, Philippine Sports Commission, and the Department of Health – the organizations under the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) of the IATF who supervises the conduct of sports during the pandemic.

But Reyes said the league complied with DOH Memorandum Circular No. 2021-0011, which set the guidelines for the hosting of sports events outside the jurisdiction of GAB and PSC. Filbasket is not professional league, therefore it is not under the control of GAB.

In such instances, the DOH stated that the event would be supervised by the local government unit (LGU).

In this regard, the former UAAP Rookie of the Year said that the upcoming Filbasket bubble has received the approval of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) of Central Luzon.

“We have complied with all requirements on how to conduct sports,” said Reyes on Friday.

Other than the two agencies, Filbasket also met with the DOH to discuss the health and safety protocols inside the Subic bubble.

“DOH was also in the approval meeting from the Regional IATF and the main concern of the meeting was to address all safety and COVID protocols,” said the former Ateneo Blue Eagle.

Reyes added the October 28 inauguration will proceed as planned, despite the GAB statement.

“We really want to help the players get back already,” he said.

Reyes also rejected GAB’s allegation that it had issued a series of communications to Filbasket, saying the league only received a memorandum from GAB indicating that the league is professional in nature based on the definition of a professional athlete as defined in the JAO Resolution 2020-01 of GAB and PSC since Filbasket has sponsorships, among others.

Filbasket responded to GAB’s letter by making it clear that the league is amateur in nature and teams are only providing “token amounts or allowances” to players for the 26-day duration of the bubble.

The league also clarified that its sponsorships are simple exchange deals and that any injection of funds is only used to cover the costs of holding the bubble. Filbasket also spent its own money to organize the tournament, Reyes said.

From the start, Reyes said the first group that Filbasket approached for help last June was GAB, which asked the league to write the IATF.

When it was determined that the league was not under its jurisdiction,
Reyes said they were told to follow DOH Memorandum Circular 2021-011, which was precisely what the new league did.

Despite the contradictory stands, the 18th overall pick of the 2010 PBA Draft expressed Filbasket’s desire to coordinate with GAB in the future, once it decides to turn pro.

“We are willing to work with the GAB once we grow and fit the description of a pro league. This is only our first tournament,” said Reyes. “If we need to go pro by next tournament in case we have a long season and we already fit the pro definition, then we will comply.”

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