PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said logistical concerns and the health of everyone involved prompted the league to back out of its plan of holding the Philippine Cup Finals in Metro Manila.
The league initially explored the possibility of staging the Finals at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, the site of the first two weeks of the eliminations, before eventually deciding that it would best to remain at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
“Okay naman tayo lumipat sa NCR kasi two teams na lang yan,” Marcial said in the virtual pre-Finals press conference Tuesday, Oct. 19. “Pero, sa tingin namin, mas safe ang mga players na nandun sa Pampanga. Kasi alam na nila yung mga galawan, wala na sila masyadong nakakasama so sa tingin namin mas safe dun. Di naman natin sinasabi na hindi safe sa Manila pero mas safe dun dahil alam na mga diskarte kung papaano.”
Marcial explained that deciding on returning back to the metropolis may cause some delays in the championship series, especially if quarantine restrictions are increased in the middle of the showdown between Magnolia Pambansang Manok and TNT.
He also added that it would be best for the teams and officials to remain in Pampanga since they already got used to the COVID-19 protocols that are being observed since the conference was restarted last month.
“Pag lumipat tayo, kailangan ang logistics natin mga 4-5 days para mag-setup, television, yung mga gamit natin, disinfection,” Marcial said. “Kung tumaas ulit ang alert level sa Metro Manila, ibig sabihin mo naman babalik nanaman kami sa Pampanga, kung papayagan ulit ako ni (Pampanga) Governor (Dennis) Pineda. And another five days nanaman yun so halos 10 days yung mawawala sa atin tapos maiisod tayo nang maiisod.
“Pero ang kaunahan sa lahat, yung safety. Okay na sila dun, alam na nila kung anu dapat gawin mga players. Sana naman, wala nang positive so mas maganda yata na dun muna sila.”
Metro Manila was downgraded to Alert Level 3 as COVID-19 cases continue to drop, raising hopes of having the PBA Finals back in the metropolis.
But guidelines crafted by the Inter-Agency Task Force allow for a bubble setup, which may have also convinced the PBA to just finish the conference in Bacolor.
The Finals starts Wednesday at the DHVSU campus with Games 2 and 3 set for Friday, Oct. 22 and Sunday, Oct. 24.
The rest of the schedule will be determined following the weekly swab test that will be held the day after Game 3.