By Jonas Terrado
Citing the importance of assuring the safety of players, fans and personnel, the PBA decided Wednesday to suspend indefinitely the Philippine Cup games and other league activities due the threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The league came up with the decision after PBA commissioner Willie Marcial and members of the Board of Governors met for almost four hours Tuesday night, adding that the resumption of games will be determined on a day-to-day basis.
Also on hold are games in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup, the start of the PBA 3×3 tournament and other activities such as the Batang PBA, the holding of practices in campuses and weekly visits to communities.
— PBA (@pbaconnect) March 11, 2020
“The Philippine Basketball Association Board of Governors through the Office of the Commissioner, decided with prudence to cancel effective today, March 11, its on-going PBA Philippine Cup and PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup games and activities and PBA 3×3 inaugurals until further notice,” the PBA said in a statement.
“Considering the present situation surrounding COVID-19 and the Presidential declaration of Public Health Emergency, it is our paramount duty and responsibility to ensure the healthy and safety of our fans, players, teams, officials and staff,” the league added.
“The league however will assess the effects of COVID-19 on a day-to-day basis guided by the parameters set by the DOH and WHO and will remain committed to conduct its games and activities in a safe and responsible manner for all its stakeholders,” the PBA said.
Marcial said the league entertained numerous possibilities such as the postponing of games for a certain number of weeks and the holding of closed-door matches but decided that it would be in the best interest of everyone to halt all PBA-related events.
“Pinag-aralan namin yung two weeks, three weeks, one month or closed-door,” Marcial said in a morning press conference at the PBA Office in Libis. “Nakita ng Board of Governors na mas makakabuti na i-suspend muna natin yung games para din sa lahat.
“Inisip din yung closed-door, pero yung sa closed-door siguro mga 300 to 400 tao din ang gagalaw dun so tinignan lahat ng angulo. Kaya napasyahan ng board na i-suspend or cancel muna mga games,” he added.
The league held the opener of the 45th season last Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with defending Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer prevailing over Magnolia while the D-League held three playdates since it started last March 2.
All PBA teams will be allowed to continue holding practices until such time the league determines when the games resume, though Marcial discouraged them from holding tune-ups.
Marcial said teams have already set up their own guidelines on how players, coaches and staff can prevent the infectious disease.
The decision now prompts the league to figure ways how to go through with its schedule for the 45th season once action resumes.
Marcial said that the season could last until March or April 2021 since the PBA has no plans to shorten the calendar of all three conferences due to its commitments with television partner TV5 and sponsors.
He bared that the league has agreements with sponsors to play at least 100 games a season while all games must be aired on television.
While the PBA may take a hit with the delay, Marcial insists on the need to focus on what’s important at this point.
“Di na namin tinitignan kung ano mawawala sa amin,” he said. “Ang mahalaga yung safety ng lahat.”