ITS scheduled return to activities last week not pushing through pending formal authorized notice from the government, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is hoping that it could finally resume practices before this month ends.

Remains shut since March because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the local pro basketball league was angling to have member teams return to modified practices on July 22 but was not able to see it through as the PBA has yet to receive the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) from pertinent government agencies which serves as the go-signal to proceed.

The JAO will come from the Games and Amusements Board, Department of Health and the Philippine Sports Commission.

The signed order contains the implementing guidelines governing the conduct of professional and nonprofessional sports training while the country is under community quarantine brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In principle, the PBA’s return for some activities had been approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases  after the league submitted its proposed guidelines and protocol for a gradual return to on-court training.

The PBA was expecting to receive the JAO on Monday and expressed readiness to proceed with its return within the week.

“Once we get the order we’ll have the training,” said PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial.

Before teams can start with on-court training, however, their players must undergo the first of a series of swab testing.

During the on-court training, players are expected to abide by the “closed circuit” method that has them confining their travel as much as possible to home-to-practice facility and back.

But if the players have to go somewhere else they have to make a log entry of it and inform the health officer chosen by the team to ensure proper tracing.

Violation of the imposed closed circuit method would merit a P5,000 fine on the initial offense, which would continue to rise for successive offenses.

Protocol for players are also in place during the workouts themselves, including those pertaining to proper distancing and hygiene. Failure to comply with them accompanies a P20,000 fine on the first offense and a higher penalty in the event of continued violation. The workouts, which limit only six individuals on the court, including four players, at a time, will also be overseen by the team’s designated health officer.

The PBA is positioning to have the phase-in practices as the first step to a return to action, progressing to scrimmages and eventually the competition proper in late September or in October. – Michael Angelo S. Murillo