By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
FOLLOWING a successful staging of its opening for Season 45 last weekend, the Philippine Basketball Association moved to postpone matches in the just-started All-Filipino tournament over concerns on the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
In an announcement released on Wednesday, the PBA said it was cancelling effective, March 11, all PBA Philippine Cup games and activities until further notice.
The decision was arrived after a special meeting held on Tuesday night among league board members and officials where they discussed the tack they would be taking moving forward in light of the growing confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.
As of this writing, the Philippines has 33 confirmed cases of the contagious COVID-19.
Also covered by the postponement are games and activities of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup and the inaugural staging of the PBA 3×3.
In the announcement, the PBA said safety and welfare of every league stakeholder was its prime consideration in its decision for postponement, saying, “Considering the present situation surrounding COVID-19 and the Presidential declaration of Public Health Emergency, it is our paramount duty and responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our fans, players, teams, officials and staff.”
It went on to say that it will continue assessing the situation daily, guided by the parameters set by the Department of Health and World Health Organization while reconfirming its commitment to stakeholders to hold the games and activities in a responsible manner.
With the postponement, immediately affected were scheduled matches in Day Two of the Philippine Cup yesterday, namely TNT KaTropa against the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters and NLEX Road Warriors versus Northport Batang Pier.
The KaTropa were set to debut its new-look roster, boasting of recently acquired players like Poy Erram, Jayjay Alejandro, Lervyn Flores and Simon Enciso, against a rebranded Fuel Masters squad.
NLEX, for its part, is angling to start its bounce-back campaign after unceremoniously being booted out in the last conference in the playoffs despite finishing with the best record in the elimination round.
The Road Warriors were set to begin it against Christian Standhardinger and the Batang Pier, their conquerors last conference.
Also affected by the postponement was the scheduled first out-of-town game of the season in Bataan between the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and the Blackwater Elite.
In a press conference on Wednesday, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said the Bataan game will be rescheduled to a later date but tickets bought for Saturday will be honored on the new play date.