Reigning NBA most valuable player Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. — GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO TWITTER PAGE

WHILE the resumption of the 2019–20 season of the National Basketball Association is still to be determined at this point, the Milwaukee Bucks are keeping themselves ready in the event the league returns to action.

Had their solid season halted when the NBA decided to suspend league activities on March 11 when its first case of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was confirmed, the Bucks, which had the best record in the league of 53-12 at the time of the halt, said they are taking the situation as it is, unfortunate it may be, while not losing hope that the season can still be salvaged.

They said they are keeping in shape on their own so that when team activities are allowed anew they would not miss much step.

“You have to stay ready. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do because you never know what you’re going to expect. I think the league and Adam Silver are doing a difficult job and will come up with a good plan that will make sure every player is ready to go, because it’s going to be really important when the season starts,” said reigning league most valuable player Giannis Antetokounmpo in a media conference call, the transcript of which was shared by the league to BusinessWorld.

Mr. Antetokounmpo was joined in the conference call by Bucks teammates Brook Lopez, Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton.

Recently the league said it is planning a 25-day return-to-basketball window before restarting the season — an 11-day series of individual workouts where the players are expected to observe social distancing then hopefully a 14-day training camp after.

The Bucks stars said that while such a setup is something beyond the ordinary, they are giving their trust to the league and will comply to what is asked of them.

“I think we just kind of have to deal with the hand that we’re dealt. The NBA is going to do the best that they can to make sure to not put anybody at risk for all of the reasons out there right now. If we play, we’ll be ready for that. If we don’t, we’ll definitely be disappointed, but I think everybody will understand that it’s bigger than basketball at this point,” said All-Star Middleton.

He was seconded by guard Bledsoe, saying, “Same with Khris. We definitely have to play the cards we’re dealt. Everybody understands what’s at stake. As a group, as a team, we’re going to stay prepared and ready for whatever the outcome is. But like Khris said, we’d be a little bit disappointed, but we know the circumstances and we just have to prepare for what’s next.”

AWAY FROM THE GAME AND LENDING A HAND
While away from regular game action, Antetokounmpo And Company said they are spending their day much of the time with their families, something they do not get to do often during the season.

The Bucks players have also done their share in coming in aid of those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, particular those working for the organization and their home arena of Fiserv Forum.

It is something they hope other people do as well in their own ways because against COVID-19 any help for those in need would go a long way.

“I know that we work with these people every day. My first reaction when the league was suspended was, ‘Are these people going to be able to work? Are these people going to be able to leave their homes? Are these people going to be able to provide for themselves and their families? Because most of these people probably live from check-to-check, so me and my family decided to help as much as we could,” said Mr. Antetokounmpo, who pledged $100,000 for the workers of the Bucks home court.

“At the end of the day it’s about helping one another. All that matters is how you help those families that are in need right now in this period that we’re going through,” he added.

“We took each other’s lead on it and we tried to do the right thing,” Mr. Middleton, for his part, said.

The NBA is mulling the direction it would take for this season in light of COVID-19 and is expected to make a clearer decision in May the earliest. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo