THE Philippine Basketball Association is bracing for a shortened season this year as the country’s battle with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic rages on.
Meeting via online on Tuesday, the PBA Board came out in agreement that Season 45 could be reduced to two conferences, or even one in a worst-case scenario, from the traditional three, if COVID-19 continues to be a telling concern.
“The leaning of the board right now is two conferences. But if the current situation extends we may be forced to have only one,” said PBA commissioner Willie Marcial after the meeting which he said lasted for only a little over an hour.
He added that primary for the league is the welfare of the fans, employees and players as they weigh all the options to come up with the best possible setup.
The PBA suspended all of its activities for the season on March 11 as the government declared a state of public health emergency with COVID-19 beginning to take root in the country.
Under a public health emergency all mass gatherings, including sporting events, are prohibited.
The suspension of activities came immediately on the heels of the opening of the PBA Philippine Cup on March 8, which saw the defending champions San Miguel Beermen beat the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, 94-78.
The league was angling to resume proceedings this month or in May, hinged on the possibility of some semblance of normalcy after the 30-day Luzon-wide Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) lapses on April 13.
But with the government deciding on April 7 to extend the ECQ for another two weeks, or until April 30, the PBA was forced to reevaluate its plans.
In the event Season 45 is reduced to two conferences, it would mark the first time since the mid-2000s that the league would make such an offering.
Doing its part
While league action is at halt, Mr. Marcial said the PBA will continue to be active in doing its share in the fight against COVID-19 as well as providing help to the league’s game-day personnel like referees, statisticians and table officials, among others.
The PBA commissioner shared that the league will donate P1 million worth of personal protective equipment for medical frontliners.
As to the inaugural PBA 3×3 tournament, Mr. Marcial said it will still push through but the fate of the PBA D-League is still to be decided on.
The league is looking to have a more concrete plan moving forward when the board meets anew on April 30. – Michael Angelo S. Murillo