By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

ITS modified team workouts proving to be a success to date, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA)  is now aiming to progress to the next step of its push to return by conducting 5-on-5 scrimmages.

In a press teleconference on Monday with various government agencies tasked to oversee the resumption of sports activities in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said they have written to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow their member teams to conduct full-contact scrimmages in preparation for the league’s targeted restart of its season by next month.

“We have already submitted our request to conduct scrimmages to the IATF and hopefully the response will be positive,” said Mr. Marcial.

The league is looking to begin team scrimmages as early as next week.

The PBA resumed with team workouts on Aug. 25 after being delayed by changing quarantine setups, particularly in the National Capital Region.

It has been strictly following the health and safety guidelines it had crafted and approved by the IATF as well as those stipulated in the Joint Administrative Order put out by pertinent government agencies.

And the league’s conscious effort to work within set parameters in relation to existing conditions with the pandemic has worked well for the PBA as no cases of the coronavirus have been reported so far and no violations of the guidelines committed by the teams.

“We are committed to what needs to be done to ensure that our push to return is a success,” said Mr. Marcial.

Included in the PBA’s return to training protocols are players undergoing a series of swab testing; 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; and during workouts, to be overseen by a designated health officer, players must observe proper distancing (only four players at a time) and hygiene.

Violations of the closed circuit method and during the workouts carry corresponding penalties.

With the PBA having the modified team workouts pretty much down pat, the league is now angling for the next step which it hopes to lead to the resumption of the currently suspended Season 45.

The league suspended the ongoing season on March 11 because of the pandemic with only one game played in the Philippine Cup, that between the San Miguel Beermen and Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, which the former won, 94-78.

It is targeting to resume next month, possibly in a bubble setting similar to that employed by the National Basketball Association where the teams and matches are hosted in one designated and contained area so as to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr. Marcial said he will be presenting to the PBA Board this week possible options for the league bubble.

Earlier, the PBA shared that among the places being considered for the bubble are the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Clark in Pampanga and the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna.

Also being considered as locations are Batangas and Subic, Zambales.