PBA: Commissioner Willie Marcial targets mid-October for season restart

Published July 18, 2020, 4:40 PM

by Jonas Terrado

45th season, PH Cup may be cancelled if target month moved anew
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial (PBA Images)

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said the season can be restarted as late as mid-October if the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic improves.

But Marcial also said that anywhere beyond that date, despite the possibility of shortening the format, will leave the league with no choice but to cancel what was supposed to be a celebration of 45 years of pro ball in the country.

“Mid-October, kaya pa namin,” Marcial said. “Pag lumagpas ng mid-October, cancel na tayo.”

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The PBA chief earlier said that the league will hold the centerpiece Philippine Cup using the same format it had implemented in past seasons.

Considered as the biggest tournament of the league’s three conferences, the Philippine Cup holds an 11-game elimination round followed by an eight-team quarterfinal phase, a best-of-seven semifinals and a best-of-seven title series.

Only one game was played prior to the suspension of the season due to the pandemic, with defending five-time champion San Miguel Beer defeating Magnolia 94-78 last March 8 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Marcial is firm on that target calendar as the PBA continues to slowly get things back to normal, first with planned resumption of practices later this month.

A decision on the planned resumption of the season won’t be made until next month, with the league putting prime focus on letting teams return to practice.

But there are stumbling blocks that the PBA has already dealt and will likely endure in the coming weeks.

First is the situation surrounding the increase of COVID-19 positives in the country where at one point, daily cases reached at least 1,000 cases on a regular basis since the month began.

The government barely kept Metro Manila under a General Community Quarantine, but warned that the capital could be placed back to a Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine if things worsen.

“Habang tumataas yan (positive cases), bumababa yung chances namin makabalik,” Marcial said. “Bababa yan, kami naman ang tataas.”

The league is also finalizing as to when teams can undergo swab tests under the facilities of San Miguel Corporation. The procedure is a final requirement before teams can resume practices at their respective facilities.

But there are already breaches that have forced the league to impose sanctions, namely the participation of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel star Japeth Aguilar and Rain or Shine rookie Adrian Wong in a five-on-five game prohibited under GCQ areas.

Recently, Blackwater came under fire for what team owner Dioceldo Sy said was a practice session sans PBA approval. The Elite were fined P100,000 and were asked to undergo swabbing and a seven-day quarantine period.

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These red flags are something the PBA is hoping will not cause any disruption to its planned season comeback later this year.