With the country experiencing another surge in COVID-19 cases, the PBA is now thinking of pushing back the opening date of Season 46 from April 11 to April 18 and switching venues from the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City to the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, Rizal.
League commissioner Willie Marcial disclosed that discussions with the provincial government of Rizal as well as the local government of Antipolo with regards to the possible holding of games in their area of jurisdiction is already under way.
“Sinabihan na kami ng Task Force (IATF) na kausapin ang LGUs. Siyempre, mahihirapan kami sa NCR. Ang tinitignan ko, Antipolo. Nakausap ko na si ex-mayor, ex-governor Junjun Ynares. Nag-uusap na kami. Titignan namin,” said Marcial who added that the National Capitol Region has already been taken off the list of playing venues for the year due to the continued rise of cases – now breaching the 5,000 mark per day, the highest in seven months.
Marcial said that holding games at the Ynares Center, already a regular venue of the league prior to the pandemic, will still need the approval of the national government including the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) group of the Department of Health, Games and Amusements Board, and the Philippine Sports Commission which supervises the conduct of sports in the country.
Aside from the change in playing venue, the opening of the upcoming season has been pushed back by a week – from April 11 to April 18 since teams are not yet allowed to scrimmage.
“Hindi na masisimulan ng April 11 kasi kailangan bigyan ko uli sila ng practices. Baka bigyan ko sila, kung papayagan, sa April 5 na magsimula, sana by April 18 makapaglaro na tayo. Sana. ‘Yun ang plano,” explained Marcial.
The league is eyeing a semi-bubble concept for the Philippine Cup with stricter measures such as regular testing, travel restrictions, and other safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus among the teams.