With a desire to get the ball rolling and provide some sort of relief to a nation ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, top officials of the PBA are set to meet with their government counterparts at Malacañang to discuss the league’s immediate future.
Commissioner Willie Marcial disclosed that he, together with Brgy. Ginebra governor and SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua, are set for a Wednesday date with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Senator Bong Go in the hopes of getting an approval for a Season 46 start in May or early June.
“We’re going to show them how successful last season’s bubble was since we didn’t really have any slip-ups there. That’s why FIBA decided to hold its ‘bubble’ for the 2021 Asia Cup qualifiers in Clark even though there are still a lot of COVID-19 cases here,” explained Marcial.
“We’re presenting all scenarios, all possible timelines, and we’re also going to show them the protocols from last year and the adjustments we’ve made for this year due to new COVID-19 variants. As the first pro league in Asia and the second pro league in the world behind the NBA, we’re hoping we can convince them,” he added.
With Clark, Pampanga unavailable for the targeted opening dates, the league has ongoing discussions with Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Manotoc and former Antipolo City Mayor Jun Ynares with regards to a possible bubble in their respective locations.
“A ‘bubble’ is still on the table. But again, we’re thinking about the costs and the mental health of all players,” said Marcial.
“Deputy commissioner Eric Castro will take a look at the location in Ilocos Norte to see if holding a bubble similar to Clark is possible. In Antipolo, we’re looking to work out a closed-circuit format because I’m not sure if we can hold a bubble from a logistical standpoint there,” added the former league statistician.
With vaccines set to become available in the next couple of months, Marcial revealed that the season may be split into two types of setup with the first conference to be held inside a bubble while the second can be staged in Metro Manila if the health condition already permits.
“That’s what I told Governor Manotoc. If we do a bubble, maybe we’re only going to play there for a month, then we could head back south if the vaccines are okay and the situation in NCR has improved,” explained Marcial who reiterated that vaccination remains the league’s top priority.
“We’ll vaccinate as many in the PBA family as we can. They say the doses will arrive by May or June. Let’s see. I hope it does. If they arrive, 50 percent of my problems will be solved.”