PBA teams will have it busy as the league will be adopting a five-play date week when Philippine Cup action resumes beginning this week. — PBA IMAGES

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is expected to resume its temporarily halted All-Filipino tournament this week that would see the 12 competing teams have it busy as the league will be adopting a five-playdate schedule every week.

Speaking on The Chasedown program on Saturday, PBA Commissioner Willie O. Marcial shared that it is already a go for the resumption of the Philippine Cup in Bacolor, Pampanga.

He said they are targeting the restart anytime between Sept. 1 and 3 with matches to be played at the Don Honorio Ventura State University (DHVSU).

The PBA chief said games will be played from Wednesday to Sunday, with triple-headers set for Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and double-headers on Thursdays and Saturdays.

The schedule will be different from the traditional three-playdate week for the league, which was used at the beginning of the Philippine Cup last month until play was suspended after Aug. 1 with Metro Manila placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) because of rising coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, particularly the Delta variant.

Mr. Marcial said they will be releasing the weekly schedule of action at DHVSU in the afternoon of Tuesday after the results of RT-PCR tests of all participants are released.

“We will release the schedule of games every Tuesday afternoon so we would know who can play for the week and we can have less disruption,” said Mr. Marcial.

As per the protocols approved by the national and provincial government of Pampanga, Mondays are set for RT-PCR tests, with the results expected to come out the next day, while antigen testing of all the teams will be conducted in the morning of each play date.

Mr. Marcial said they are doing everything they can to ensure the safety and health of all participants so they can still stay on track of the season schedule. They hope to finish the elimination round on Sept. 19, with the playoffs immediately following.

While the All-Filipino tournament return happens in Pampanga, Mr. Marcial said they are open to the possibility of bringing back action to Metro Manila anytime after the eliminations if conditions permit.

“We may return to Manila if everything is okay, meaning, it has been placed under General Community Quarantine or Modified GCQ. But for now, we’re focusing first on the play in Pampanga,” he said.

The resumption of play will be conducted under a “semi-bubble” setup, with player and team movements limited to hotel-game venue-hotel.

All the competing teams have been in different parts of Pampanga since last week to prepare for their return to action.

The PBA Philippine Cup opened on July 16 with games held at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City. Action was stopped after matches on Aug. 1.

The league spent the next weeks looking for areas which could hold its games, eventually finding a willing host in Pampanga, which is under a less strict setup of MGCQ.

At the time of the stoppage, the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok were on top of the standings with a 4-0 record, followed by the TNT Tropang Giga (3-0), Meralco Bolts (4-1), San Miguel Beermen (3-1), Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (4-2), NLEX Road Warriors (2-2), Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings (2-2), Alaska Aces (2-3), Northport Batang Pier (1-3), Phoenix Fuel Masters (1-4), Terrafirma Dyip (0-4) and Blackwater Elite (0-4).