PBA to open Season 46 on July 16

Published July 9, 2021, 11:52 AM

by Jonas Terrado

Photo from PBA

The PBA was finally given the go-signal by the Inter-Agency Task Force to begin its 46th season on July 16 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City after months of delays due to the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation.

Games and Amusements Board chairman Baham Mitra made the announcement during the government agency’s monthly press conference yesterday, a day after the IATF gave the nod for the PBA to push through with its two-conference season under a closed-circuit setup.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, in a separate presscon, admitted it was a difficult process after he made a presentation before the IATF’s technical working group a few days ago.

“Sa totoo lang mas nahirapan ako ngayon kesa nung nag-bubble tayo sa Clark,” Marcial said, referring to the staging of last year’s PBA season under a bubble setup in Pampanga.

The Joint Administrative Order of the GAB, Philippine Sports Commission and the Department of Health prohibits the staging of a closed-circuit season under the current regulations of General Community Quarantine regulation with some restrictions inside the NCR Plus bubble.

But with the IATF approval, the PBA will have to sit down with GAB and the DOH to include supplemental guidelines in the JAO.

“The recommendation of the professional sports division (GAB) was taken into consideration by the technical working group, that’s why the PBA went directly to the IATF because if it is part of the JAO then they didn’t have to go to the IATF,” Mitra said.

“And on record, we were present in the technical working group and asked that the request be approved and that the DOH, the PBA and the GAB will just sit down and amend the supplemental JAO.

“As it is, it is not in the JAO, but since the IATF has already approved it, we will include it in the JAO,” added Mitra.

Some protocols included a 10-day testing for players, coaches, referees and staff, even the 95-percent of the fully vaccinated members of the PBA community.

Fans are still barred from attending the games, though Marcial is hoping for them to attend during the playoffs of the second conference.

Marcial said other matters like if teams can practice inside NCR Plus and tune-up games can be held before the season can begin.

The 46th season opens with the centerpiece Philippine Cup using the usual format of an 11-game eliminations followed by a quarterfinals, semifinals and finals while it is still being determined if there will be imports or even the participation of Gilas Pilipinas in the second conference.
Playdates are going to be a tripleheader except during the start of the PBA 3×3 tournament next month.

Marcial expressed his gratitude to government officials for the approval, namely Senator Bong Go, executive secretary Salvador Medialdea, MMDA chairman Benhur Abalos and general manager Jojo Garcia and Foreign Affairs undersecretary Dodo Dulay, who presided over the TWG meeting.

He also thanked the Local Government Units of Rizal through former governor Jun Ynares and Pasig City through Mayor Vico Sotto for giving their blessing in holding the games at Ynares Pasig. 

The Ynares Sports Arena, owned and operated by the Rizal government, is located near the former Rizal Provincial Capitol that has now become a commercial area.

The PBA was aiming for the season to open in mid-April but a spike in COVID-19 cases a month prior forced the government to implement stricter quarantine measures.

The league took an initial step in getting the season underway in May when the IATF permitted teams to hold full practices and scrimmages in areas under normal GCQ, prompting teams to train either in Batangas, Pampanga or as far as Ilocos Norte.

Marcial cited the success of the practices that saw only a handful of positive COVID-19 cases as among the things he presented with IATF officials.