By JEREMIAH SEVILLA
Basilan-Jumbo Plastic slammed the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) for its decision to declare Davao Occidental-Cocolife winner by default in the Lakan Cup South Division Finals decider on Tuesday.
The MPBL gave the Tigers an automatic win that towed them to a National Finals rematch against the San Juan Knights after four players of the Steel tested positive for COVID-19 from their re-swab on Monday, as confirmed by league commissioner Kennet Duremdes.
Basilan came up with a lengthy statement hours later, saying that it was “greatly disappointed with the decision of the MPBL management committee.”
“We have long patiently waited for this resumption which took a year to unfold due to the pandemic. Despite not having concrete plans and a systemic approach of the committee to proceed with the games, our team adhered to the plans in support of the vision of our good founder Senator Manny Pacquiao,” the team said.
“With very limited time given by the MPBL, our players exposed themselves to danger to prepare for the games and our management accepted the proposal despite the huge cost it will take just to proceed. All this because we wanted to give joy to all basketball fans especially to Basilenos who have been passionately cheering for us since our cellar-dweller days in the MPBL.”
Basilan actually prevailed in the South Division Finals opener with a thrilling 74-72 win but Davao tied the series with an 81-76 victory in Game 2 before the pandemic started to halt sporting events last year.
Pulling all the stops, the Steel went to Subic for the resumption of the postponed Lakan Cup under a sports bubble setup only to find out that two of its players were positive of the novel coronavirus from the initial swab test.
All the Basilan players and staff underwent a seven-day extended stay at the quarantine hotel but their second swab showed four players testing positive.
The team management blasted the league for “not preparing well and rushing the resumption” which allegedly led to the exposure of its players to the virus.
Basilan also demanded for the implementation of the MPBL’s protocol to postpone the games until the affected team is ready to play if somebody tests positive.
The Steel bared that the MPBL contested that they are not yet in the Subic bubble, but emphasized their claim that they’re already there as they underwent quarantine and swab test.
The team also alleged that it requested for a re-swab for a positive player but it “fell on deaf ears.” and was even asked to default to avoid a very costly extension of the bubble.
“We feel that our team is sacrificed just for the sake of finishing the season.”
Now, Basilan is asking the MPBL and Pacquiao himself for a reconsideration “not just for us but for the integrity of our league.”
“We are here because of our fans so we owe everything to them. They deserved to (be) given the game they waited so long to see. The future of our league depends on this. Let the games be decided on the basketball court and not by COVID,” the team concluded.
Manila Bulletin tried to contact Duremdes for a comment but he has yet to respond.