By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THE Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) push to return to some activities cranks up further as the league is to meet with the coaches and team managers of member teams on Friday to discuss with them the protocols to be implemented.

Got the nod from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) last week to have teams under it resume practices albeit following strict health and safety guidelines, the PBA is now busy getting hold of stakeholders to lay the groundwork for the resumption of league activities after suspending its season on March 11 because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

It was a decision that the league welcomed with enthusiasm, seeing how it could well pave the way for the possible resumption of the halted season by September or October.

“We are very happy with the development and that the IATF considered our request for our teams and players to at least squeeze in some activities, particularly practicing and conditioning,” PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial told BusinessWorld in an interview.

“This is a significant step towards our push to resuming the season and we will use the IATF approval as a direction as we continue to work in the coming days,” he added.

Recently, Mr. Marcial met with player-representatives of the different teams, who, in turn, unanimously signed off on the league’s plans to return.

It is the same consensus the PBA wants to get from the coaches and team managers.

“We will meet with the coaches and team managers on Friday to talk to them about the plans of the league for a return. We will discuss the protocols and at the same time get their comments and suggestions to further improve on them,” Mr. Marcial was quoted as saying by the official league website.

The PBA then plans to hold a board meeting to finalize things and then after a week give the teams the go-ahead.

Under the approved guidelines of the IATF the league must ensure that during practices only six people, including four players, are allowed at a time.

Also, temperatures of players will have to be taken before the practice, while sanitizers and alcohols will be put in strategic places for use by the teams. Practice facilities have to be disinfected before and after use as well.

No scrimmages would take place, only conditioning for players. Players and staff members are also prohibited from taking showers after the workout.

The “no test, no practice” policy would also be strictly imposed, meaning players have to be tested for COVID-19 first for them to be allowed to participate in the practices.

“We have to ensure that by the time teams go to practice everything is clear to them and all protocols will be followed,” Mr. Marcial reiterated.

Meanwhile, in a separate development, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) said project director Tab Baldwin remains in his post despite the uproar the latter’s comments caused recently.

“Right now nothing has changed,” SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios shared at the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday.

“Mr. Panlilio said the opinions that Tab Baldwin expressed were his personal ones, they were not aligned with the position of the SBP and certainly, not aligned with the personal opinion of president Al Panlilio,” he added.

Mr. Baldwin drew the ire of the PBA and other local basketball stakeholders for his comments critical of the hoops landscape in the country, including how Filipino coaches are “tactically immature” and how the PBA conference format is flawed.

The SBP project director and concurrent Ateneo Blue Eagles coach already talked to PBA and SBP officials to explain his side.