Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

The resumption of the PBA’s 45th season may still be uncertain with coronavirus cases rising in the country and individual workouts only about to begin, but the league has allowed teams to extend the contracts of players with expiring deals up to the end of the year.

The PBA board approved the move last Saturday as teams can start signing the players once practices resume on July 22.“The players are very fortunate because whether or not we have games this year, they will have salaries until Dec. 31,” PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said in Filipino on Tuesday during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.

“This is the decision made by the board, but of course, it is still the option of the team to sign an extension or not. If you can’t sign an extension with the team, you are an automatic free agent.” Marcial said teams only need to inform the PBA on which players they are giving extended deals for the remainder of the year.

San Miguel’s veteran duo of Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos and Alaska forward Jeron Teng and suspended forward Calvin Abueva of Phoenix headline the list of players with expiring deals.

Also on the list are Carl Bryan Cruz of Blackwater, Paolo Taha of NorthPort, Nard Pinto and Nico Salva of Meralco, and Dave Marcelo and Jake Pascual of Phoenix.

Player-agent Marvin Espiritu, who handles the careers of the likes of Kiefer Ravena of NLEX and Robert Bolick of NorthPort, said the move will give players a sense of security during the pandemic.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, however, recently allowed the PBA and its teams to resume practices but under strict health guidelines.

“With practices resuming, even those players who are on the borderline of the lineups of the teams have an opportunity to prove themselves and earn an extension,” Espiritu told the Inquirer.

Espiritu’s other players like Bradwyn Guinto (NorthPort), Paul Varilla (NLEX) and Rashawn McCarthy (Columbian Dyip) are also on expiring deals.

“At the very least, the situation is not as bad as as it was before,” he added. “For example, a player not signed to an extension can still try out for another team.”

Marcial also said that the no-trade policy is still in place as the board has yet to lift the regulation it approved a few months ago when the season was suspended.

Meanwhile, the league has set fines for players and staff who will defy the health protocols and guidelines once team workouts resume on July 22.

Anyone caught violating protocols during the workouts will be penalized P20,000, Marcial said.

The PBA commissioner said the league will be making surprise visits to practice facilities to also check if protocols are being followed.

As part of the league’s “close-circuit concept,” Marcial said players will be made to declare their whereabouts should they need to buy necessities.

Those who will violate the concept will be meted a starting fine of P5,000, with the amount increasing by the number of offenses committed. INQ


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