Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

The Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) plans to resume training and conditioning sessions—which would officially signal the reboot of its milestone 45th season—hit another snag following the government’s announcement to place Mega Manila under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) late Sunday night.

But league commissioner Willie Marcial said that the league’s leadership will gladly abide by it and that they remain hopeful despite this latest delay.“We’re adjusting [to the times],” Marcial told the Inquirer over the phone on Monday afternoon. “This is for everyone’s sake. Who’s to feel bad over how things have developed?”

Marcial said the league was supposed to have players, coaches and staff undergo swab testing on Aug. 6 and 7 at Makati Medical Center, but that, too, will have to wait because of the upgraded level of lockdown measures. After those rounds of testing, the PBA would have opened camp for teams to get back into shape.This marks the second time the PBA has encountered a delay in its bid to resuscitate its season which, like many leagues and sporting events around the world, was hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The league originally targeted July 22 as its official return to modified workouts following the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) on July 3 for professional sports, namely basketball and football, to resume training.

The country’s football leadership has also decided to postpone the start of Philippines Football League (PFL) clubs’ training sessions because of the MECQ.

“We have deferred the restart of training of PFL clubs after Aug. 18,” Mariano Araneta, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president, said in a separate interview.

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

The PFL had originally set its sights on the third week of August to hold a training bubble at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona, Cavite province.

But that has been pushed back as well following Malacañang’s acknowledgment of the medical community’s plea for a two-week lockdown amid the continued rise of coronavirus infections.Araneta said he is not considering the delay as a setback as “there are more important things right now, like containing COVID-19 and heeding the call of our front-line [workers].”“They (health care workers) have been overwhelmed in dealing with the virus,” he said.

“Health and safety is the number one priority of the league,” Coco Torres, the PFL’s commissioner, told the Inquirer in a separate exchange. “The PFL is set to fully cooperate with government directives and guidelines under MECQ.”

“We understand the situation and the reason why the medical sector requested for a time-out, so we will do our part to support their battle against COVID-19,” he added.

If anything, the change in schedule, Araneta believes, will afford the sporting community the chance to review and bolster their health guidelines for their respective restarts.

“Right now, we encourage everyone in the football community to follow government guidelines on MECQ.”

Marcial said that the PBA “is behind the government’s decision.”

The PBA chieftain also said he has not lost hope that the league will be able to stage even just the completion of its Philippine Cup before the year is over.But that was before the new lockdown announcement.

“We’ll just to have wait till Aug. 18,” Marcial said of his immediate target of completing testing of all the teams, with the MECQ supposedly ending on that date.

“[By] then, we’re going to write the IATF another request [for the restart],” he added. INQ


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