Signed, sealed, delivered: IATF letter makes official go-signal for PBA practice

Swab testing needed before teams can commence session however
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial (PBA Images)

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial has asked teams to coordinate with his office for documents players need to fill up for swab testing as the government finally allowed practice sessions.

“Tumawag na sa akin si GAB chairman Mitra and he said, ‘it’s a go’ kaya eto nga umpisa na kami sa pag-asikaso,” said Marcial in a telephone interview Monday by Manila Bulletin.

Marcial said they expect to receive a copy of the letter from the ‘technical’ joint group of the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) headed by Abraham Mitra, the Philippine Sports Commission under chairman Butch Ramirez and the health department led by Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Marcial said the forms would be forwarded to the Makati Medical Center, the hospital tasked to conduct the swab testing, the first step for the 12 teams to return to the playing court after nearly a five-month break.

“We’ll coordinate with the Makati Medical Center, because they need to encode all players, coaches na kailangan mai-swab test,” he said.

Of the 12 teams, Marcial said Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, San Miguel Beer and Magnolia Hotshots are no longer included in the list for swab testing since San Miguel Corporation has its own testing facility.

The nine other teams – TNT KaTropa, NLEX, Meralco, Rain or Shine, Alaska, NorthPort, Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters, Terra Forma DYIP and Blackwater – will be scheduled as soon as possible.

“Ang San Miguel kasi meron sila, so yun na yung gagamitin nila. Pero yung nine teams, lahat sa Makati Medical Center na. Alam naman natin na si MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) din ang may- ari (hospital) so malaking tulong,” said Marcial.

The swab testing will be done by batches, and as soon as the results are out within two days, which Marcial hopes will yield negative results, practice schedules will follow.

 “Hopefully maayos lahat… kung OK naman lahat, tignan natin baka Monday na makapag-start ng ensayo,” Marcial said.

The league’s resumption to training comes after the joint group of DOH, GAB and PSC approved the guidelines for professional basketball and football return amid the coronavirus pandemic.

 With strict health protocols, the heads of the government department and agencies signed the letter Monday to be forwarded to the PBA Commissioner’s Office and the Philippine Football League.

“Chairman Butch Ramirez, Sec. Duque and I have already signed the joint admin order,” said Mitra in a statement.

“We are so happy and excited that finally after more than four months our professional football and basketball players can now shake off some pounds they may have acquired during the quarantine.

“We expect them to practice maybe for a month or two to be much fit… and hopefully when quarantine levels go down be allowed to eventually play.”