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Sunday, May 19, 2024

PBA wants fans back

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The Philippine Basketball Association is adopting a number of measures that will help it become vibrant anew moving forward.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial (left) and chairman Ricky Vargas

The 46-year-old league is set for a dialogue with the Inter-Agency Task Force to discuss about finally having fans back in the playing venue for the coming Governors’ Cup, even as the Board of Governors already approved that Fil-foreign players now only need to present a valid Philippine passport in order to be available for the rookie draft.

These are some of the fresh developments announced by Commissioner Willie Marcial and Board Chairman Ricky Vargas when they appeared together in the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday.

Marcial said he’s going to sit down with the IATF within the coming days and talk about the protocols to be implemented for the import-flavored meet and at the same time, request the agency that it be allowed to have the fans back in the venue after playing two consecutive conferences under a bubble set-up minus an audience.

“Hihingi ako ng dulog sa ating IATF kung puwede na ang fans. Makikipag-usap ako kung ilang percentage ang puwede, kung paano ang seating arrangement, kung ano ang protocols and safety measures na kailangan natin,” the commissioner said.

“It’s a joyous occasion to see the fans back,” added Vargas in the session presented by San Miguel Corporation, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, Daily Tribune, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

“We’re excited about the second conference. It’s going to be a conference with imports, and we’re looking forward to having our fans back. Yan ang pangarap namin. It’s been two years. We’re looking forward to having them again as part of our tournaments.”

The league’s second conference is tentatively set for a Nov. 28 opening depending on the arrival of all 12 imports. What is certain though, is the opening of the inaugural PBA 3×3 tournament on Nov. 20 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

“That’s another milestone,” Vargas said of the launching of the league’s first ever three-a-side meet.

In the same forum, the league chairman announced the approval of the Board allowing Fil-foreign players with Philippine passport to become eligible for the annual draft.

Previously, besides a Philippine passport, Fil-foreign players are also required to get a certification from the Bureau of Immigration and affirmation from the Department of Justice.

That’s everything in the past now, according to Vargas.

“We will basically look at Fil-foreigners less stringently now,” said the TNT governor. “As long as they have Filipino blood and they can get their passport, they are able to come and play for us, we will look at them with less rules to disqualify them.”

In the recent draft, a number of Fil-foreign players were declared ineligible for failing to secure both their BI and DoJ documents.

“That way, we will make the PBA exciting and we will bring the world to the PBA. Parang NBA,” said Vargas. “But at the same time, trying to also balance it so that we will be able to give jobs to our players na nandito. We are looking forward to that in the next draft.”

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