MMDA chief Abalos to help PBA get its bearings as 2021 season remains in limbo

Published May 18, 2021, 5:59 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos has promised to help the struggling Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

From left to right: MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos, PBA Commissioner Willy Marcial, and MMDA General Manager Jojo Garcia (Photo from the MMDA)

This, after Abalos was given a courtesy visit by no less than PBA Commissioner Willy Marcial on Tuesday, May 18 at the MMDA headquarters in Makati City.

During the brief meeting, the two officials discussed ways to forge stronger coordination particularly during this time of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The PBA’s 46th season this year is on hold due to the public health crisis, with no date as to when the actual games would start.

In the meeting, Marcial sought clarification and guidance from the MMDA chief regarding existing rules and regulations of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on contact sports such as basketball. The MMDA is a part of the IATF. Abalos vowed to help the PBA and the local basketball industry as a whole. He noted that the shutdown of the PBA during the pandemic has adversely affected the livelihood of families employed by the sports organization and its 12 member-teams.

The MMDA chief said they will work on some actions that will be acceptable to the IATF, even as they seek to ensure that the minimum health protocols being implemented by the government shall be strictly observed and adhered to.

“Basketball is the Filipinos’ national pasttime. But there is no denying that the PBA is struggling now because of the pandemic. We have to ensure the safety of everyone, not only the players, but the general viewing public. We cannot compromise the health and well-being of all,” Abalos emphasized.

The association–known as the first professional basketball league in Asia–is reportedly eyeing training in Metro Manila, which recently eased its quarantine status to a general community quarantine (GCQ) “with heightened restrictions”.

Marcial gave Abalos his guarantee that the league would strictly comply with the minimum health standards as well as enforce protocols to keep players and game officials safe once they get the green light to start the season.