Just how much sacrifice do PBA players and coaches need to give to convince the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to allow the league’s return to action this season?
All 12 teams are currently training outside the NCR Plus bubble and had to find areas with lesser community quarantine restrictions. Nine teams are currently holding scrimmages in Batangas City—Barangay Ginebra, San Miguel Beer, Magnolia, NorthPort, Blackwater, Terrafirma, Alaska, Rain or Shine and Phoenix Super LPG. These teams alternated training at the Batangas City Coliseum and Lyceum and had to go through a gruelling process of traveling from home to venue and vice versa over the past week.
The rest of the teams decided to train up north—TNT, Meralco and NLEX.
TNT and Meralco are currently training under a bubble setup in Ilocos Norte, while NLEX put up a camp at the St. Paul American School in Clark City.
The players and the coaches knew that the only way to convince the IATF is to come up with well-organized scrimmages, where strict health protocols are properly observed. The teams are practically on their toes, as even just one positive COVID test, will hamper the league’s chances of requesting for the start of the season next month.
The PBA delegations training in Southern and Northern Luzon are doing whatever it takes not to breach these protocols, knowing that all eyes are on them. They want to make a good impression similar to what they achieved in last year’s bubble tournament in Clark City, which served as a model for the International Basketball Federation.
Because of the PBA’s successful hosting of its bubble tournament, FIBA preferred Clark City to become its venue for the last window of the FIBA Asia Qualifiers to be held in June.
The PBA was able to do it last year and the league is confident it can do it again this year with its proposed circuit bubble tournament.
When one talks about sacrifice, the PBA has made a huge effort in sacrificing its resources. Reportedly, the league spent P50 million last year and Asia’s pioneering professional basketball league cannot afford to host another one. That’s why players, coaches and all members of the delegation are starting to get used to the long travels and shifting of schedules.
Never mind if some of them are spending long hours travelling, costly expenses in fuel and toll fees and the exhausting phase of these routines just to make everything work. It’s the prize they have to pay for the lives they’ve chosen.
By May 30, the PBA awaits the government’s decision, upon IATF’s recommendation, on whether to downgrade the General Community Quarantine under heightened restrictions or keep the status quo. A downgraded community quarantine will allow the teams to train in Metro Manila and that will put the league on target for a possible start of the season in late June.
And if COVID-19 cases in the NCR would continue with its downward trend, the PBA might open shop right on its projected date.
It takes more sacrifice to salvage the game we love and these players, coaches and every member of each squad are doing it. Whatever it takes.
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I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to the Manila Standard sports section, headed by Riera Mallari, for providing me the platform as I continued what I started here seven years ago. The Link would also like to thank the readers, both of this prestigious paper and this column. The Manila Standard set a big path in my 23-year profession and I will be forever indebted to this institution. As for this column, the journey never stops as you’ll find it in another platform soon.
This profession taught us to write, write until you write 30.
Thank you and see you in my next voyage.