James Yap (Rain or Shine)
Play in an empty venue sans live audience?
FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - June 2, 2020 - 12:00am

The PBA, UAAP and other indoor games are suspended until better, safer times. Funfare asked some basketball players this question: Will you agree to play in a closed-door venue with no audience? And here’s what they say…

“Yes!” That’s the three-letter word reply of James Yap (Rain or Shine), no ifs and buts, short but sweet.

Kiefer Ravena (NLEX)

• Kiefer Ravena (NLEX): Yes, as long as everything, the government-set protocols are followed.

Marc Pingris (Magnolia Hotshots)

• Marc Pingris (Magnolia Hotshots): Payag ako because it’s my job and I also miss playing. We play not only for our fans but also for our families. Dapat mag-ingat dahil sa virus. Nakaka-sad lang dahil walang “live” audience dahil fans ang nagbibigay buhay sa liga.

Ricci Rivero (UP Fighting Maroons)

• Ricci Rivero (UP Fighting Maroons): In as much as I miss playing basketball, more so playing for UP on my last playing year in the UAAP, this pandemic requires me not to just think of myself but the safety of everyone else. We should not be only looking at the live audiences, but let’s consider also the persons that comprise a team. The operations group behind the league, the venue administrators and the broadcast media — add them all together and we have more than a hundred in one venue. Until a vaccine is available, mass gathering is not safe for anyone.

More importantly, for me, the soul of the UAAP is its audience, its students, its supporters, UAAP is not just a game, it’s even beyond a championship trophy or a grand stage to show your skills, nor a revenge against a rival school; we don’t play for ourselves and our own pride alone. School spirit is what defines UAAP, the unity in sports that binds players, alumni, administrators, media, sponsors and audiences playing and cheering as one. UAAP cannot serve its purpose without its core.

• Aldrich Ramos (Dyip): Hmmm, 50/50. Awkward pag walang manonood kasi fans ang nag-bo-boost ng iyong performance. Basta huwag lang malagay sa peligro ang health ng players.

• RR Garcia (Phoenix): Oo, agree ako. Gustong-gusto ko na ring maglaro, hinahanap-hanap na ng katawan ko.

• Jeron Teng (Alaska): Yes, but with the current situation, people’s safety should be the No. 1 priority. At least by playing behind closed doors with no spectators, we still give joy and entertainment to our fans (who can watch on TV).

• Paul Zamar (SMB): Yes, I’m OK. We can still entertain the people since the games will be televised and available in various TV programs and other platforms.

• Rodney Brondial (Alaska): Puede naman manood ang tao sa bahay. Kahit nasa lockdown, mag-e-enjoy din sila kahit paano.

• Michael Canete (Meralco): Okey lang basta kung ano ang makakabuti. Maging safe lang po ang lahat.

• Prince Rivero (Rain or Shine): The safety of everyone should be the first priority. Staging a live game requires preparations for both the teams and the league since exposure to a number of people in an open area raises our chance to get infected. It’s something not worth risking. Let’s just wait until everyone is safe.

• Roden Celda (Dyip): Yes, kung walang choice as long as safe naman ang mga players...kasi kung hihintayin hanggang okey lahat baka matagalan pa.

• Jensen Rios (Phoenix): Miss na naming maglaro. Pero sa panahon ng pandemic risky din maglaro kahit walang audience. Siguro baka puede na kung mababa na ang COVID cases.

• Diego Dario (Blackwater Elite): Kung hindi pa rin safe mag-contact sport, baka hindi ako maglaro. Pero kapag sinabi ng authorities na safe na, okey ako makapag-pasaya ng ating mga kababayan during these tough times.

• William McAloney (NLEX): Agree ako kung ‘yon po ang dapat gawin basta masigurado ang safety ng players.

• Jeric Teng (Pasig Sta. Lucia Realtors): As much as I enjoy playing in a crowded arena, I’m okay to play in a closed-door venue since we can entertain fans who can watch us on TV. But first, the safety procedures must be strictly observed.

• John Vic de Guzman (Volleyball team captain, 2019 SEA Games): We in the men’s volleyball depend on the league for our salary. Kung matutuloy ang liga kahit walang audience, pabor ‘yon sa amin. Pero kung ang kapalit ay kaligtasan namin dahil sama-sama sa training at sa game, hindi mababayaran ng monthly retainers at practice allowance, pati na rin ng championship trophy, ang peace of mind at kaligtasan ng aming pamilya.

(Thanks to Ambet Nabus, Jun Lalin and Paulo “King” Rivero for helping Funfare get the players’ answers.)

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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