PBA return push gets further wind

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The PBA is looking to start conducting phase-in practices and workouts by next week. (PBA Images)

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THE Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) push to return to action following months of inactivity because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic got further wind late last week after the league met with team officials and members of the board to discuss the protocols for a possible resumption.

Recently got the nod of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the lead government agency in the country’s fight against COVID-19, to resume practices and conditioning albeit under strict health and safety protocols, the PBA has been busy reaching out to stakeholders to get input from them to ensure that the return push of the league is successful.

On Friday, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial met with the coaches and team managers to discuss the league plans and protocols in relation to the return, first to practices and, eventually, to the matches themselves.

The team officials were said to be supportive of the guidelines set forth and view them as “doable.”

“I think it’s good. All we have to do is follow it,” Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone was quoted as saying by the official league web site after the meeting held at the PBA office in Libis, Quezon City.

“I think the PBA has put up an effective guideline to safeguard the players. It’s just a matter of attitude from the players to maintain it,” NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, for his part, said.

In the team workout procedure, all teams are required to take a COVID test three days before training commences. After that, teams will again have to undergo COVID testing every 10 days. All training facilities should initially be disinfected using hospital standard disinfection procedures, aside from the usual before-and-after group workouts disinfection process.

Players are also required to follow the “closed circuit” method that confines their travel to home to practice facility and back.

Last month, Mr. Marcial met with player-representatives of the member teams to talk to them about the guidelines and what is expected of them as the league attempts to inch its way back after deciding to suspend the season on March 11 because of the pandemic.

Following the meeting with team officials, the league then met on Saturday with members of the PBA board, which also threw its full support to the return plans.

In the meeting, it was agreed that should there be any COVID-19 cases among the players during the individual workouts the respective teams will shoulder the hospital expenses.

“The teams will take care of all the hospital expenses when their players get COVID-19. It’s like when players get injured. So there’s no need for any insurance,” Mr. Marcial said.

Also, upon the suggestion of Alfrancis Chua, Barangay Ginebra governor, the board upgraded all testing procedures to swab tests. The initial recommendation by the PBA Commissioner’s Office is for players to undergo rapid-swab-rapid tests in that order every 10 days.

All tests will be conducted by San Miguel Corp.’s laboratory but teams will shoulder the costs.

The PBA is looking to start conducting phase-in practices and workouts by next week and if things proceed as smoothly as hoped, the league said it will write to the IATF once again in August for the next phase of having team scrimmages.

The league also set for August making a final decision on whether to resume the currently suspended season or not.