Step by step

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - May 9, 2021 - 12:00am

Last Wednesday, Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Brigido Dulay presided in the 59th IATF technical working group meeting via teleconference and PBA commissioner Willie Marcial submitted the league’s request to resume 5x5 scrimmages in areas under GCQ with a list of health and safety protocols to be imposed if approved. The PBA discussion was allocated a 30-mintue window in the agenda but it extended to about an hour with Marcial explaining the details of the request before a team of some 20 government officials representing PSC, DOH, DILG, DOJ, DFA, DOT and others.

Marcial announced IATF’s approval in a zoom press conference at the tail-end of his visit to Batangas City last Friday. Since Batangas is under GCQ and travel time from Metro Manila has been reduced with the opening of expressways, the province was earmarked as a possible practice site for PBA teams. Marcial and his staff met with Batangas fifth district Rep. Marvey Marino, Batangas City Mayor Beverley Dimacuha, Batangas State University president Dr. Tirso Ronquillo, Batangas City sports officer Gilbert Alea and representatives of the Batangas City Coliseum, Lyceum of the Philippines-Batangas and Hotel PonteFino during the day trip.

Asked if the PBA requested IATF clearance to start the new season, Marcial said not yet. It’s a step-by-step process and Marcial pointed out that before requesting IATF approval to open the 46th season, the PBA must show the roll-out of practice under GCQ is seamless. “Dapat malinis ang implementation at walang positive,” he said. “Ang request natin ay makapag-scrimmage sa GCQ areas like Batangas. No problem kung MGCQ at approved na ‘yan ng IATF through a JAO (Joint Administrative Order) kaya some teams are considering to practice in areas sa North under MGCQ.” Marcial said five to seven teams are considering to practice in Batangas and one team planned to do a seven to 10-day bubble before deciding to head to a province in the North.

Marcial checked out the three wooden-court basketball gyms in Batangas City and gave his thumbs-up on their standards. “Yung Lyceum, may dalawang courts, isang kahoy at isang taraplex kaya malawak,” he said. “Yung Batangas State, naglaro na tayo diyan, ang first PBA game sa Batangas. Yung Batangas Coliseum, naglaro na rin tayo diyan. Mahigpit ang security at protection natin during practice. Mga tatlo o apat lang ng practice facility staff ay papayagan sa loob at hindi sa court. Bawal kumain sa court maliban sa fruits at drinks, walang take-out, walang delivery. Pwedeng kumain sa PortoFino na naka-bubble. Seven days before practice, kailangan RT-PCR test tapos two days before, isa pang swab at every 10 days testing. Sa closed-circuit, monitored ang movement ng mga coaches, players at team staff, bawal lumabas ng bahay at kung may emergency o dapat lumabas for essentials, magpapaalam sa PBA.”

Marcial said practices may begin May 17 or 18 and go on for a month before the new season begins. If and when the practices proceed without a hitch, Marcial said with the PBA Board of Governors approval, he will go back to IATF and request for clearance to start the season, possibly in June.

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