PBA awaits LGUs clearance

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Its just a matter of time before the PBA gets the go-signal from six LGUs to restart scrimmages. And when the green light flashes, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said yesterday the GovernorsCup will be resumed after 10 days. If the schedule allows, Marcial said teams may play tune-up games at the tail-end of the scrimmage period. Initially, the PBA will hold the return of the conference behind closed doors, meaning no audience but Marcial said he expects it to be temporary.

The ball started rolling when GAB chairman Baham Mitra endorsed the resumption of scrimmages last week. The PBA Board of Governors was convened last Monday to take up Marcials proposed timetable to restart the games and approved it. The next day, Marcial was in touch with MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos who referred him to MMDA general manager Atty. Don Artes and MMDA director for public safety office Atty. Vic Trinidad. Abalos told Marcial he supports the return of scrimmages in the six Metro Manila LGUs where teams practiceQuezon City, Pasig, Mandaluyong, Parañaque, San Juan and Pasay. Abalos will make a formal endorsement to be given to the different PBA teams for coordination with the involved LGUs or send a memo to the LGUs directly. Whichever way, Marcial said MMDA will make it happen.

Nagpapasalamat ang PBA kay Chairman Abalos na sobrang supportive ever since,” said Marcial. “Si Atty. Trinidad ay member ng IATF Technical Working Group kaya kabisado niya mga patakaran sa pag-start ‘di lang scrimmages kundi games mismo.” Marcial said hes optimistic that scrimmages will be restarted any day now so that actual games may be resumed by the first week of February at the earliest. The forecast is NCR will register below 500 new cases by Feb. 14 and if thats the case, its likely that Alert Level 3 will go down to Alert Level 2.

Teams are now doing small group workouts from weeks of online training. The other day, Blackwaters new import Shawn Glover was measured at the PBA office and came in at 6-5 1/4, clearing him to play in the conference which has a height limit of below 6-6 for reinforcements. Blackwater coach Ariel Vanguardia said Glover is getting acquainted with his new teammates by rotating in small group workouts. NorthPort is flying in a new import from Baltimore and should arrive within a few days. Phoenix import Paul Harris, nursing a Grade 1 groin strain, has been cleared to do rehab and will start scrimmages next week.

On another matter, Marcial said the league will revisit the seven-year free agency rule if it is found to be dysfunctional. It was recommended during past commissioner Chito Saluds term and implemented this year with three 2014 draftees availing of the privilege. Marcial cited three reasons why players may opt for free agencyfirst, they want to be reunited with former teammates; second, they want to play for a coach theyre familiar with and third, they want to play for a championship contender even at a reduced salary. The risk is if a player declares for unrestricted free agency, he may not be picked up by the team he chooses or any team at all, leaving him in limbo. Its a balancing act but the rule gives players with expired contracts the option to determine their fate after seven years in the league.


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