By JONAS TERRADO
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial (center) on Tuesday paid a courtesy call on MMDA Chairman Benjamin ‘BenHur’ Abalos. The two officials are joined by MMDA general manager Jose Arturo S. Garcia Jr.
The PBA sought the clarification and guidance of the Metropolitan Development Authority (MMDA) with regards to current health and safety guidelines being implemented by the Inter-Agency Task Force.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial paid a courtesy call Tuesday, May 18 to MMDA chairman Benhur Abalos, who committed to “work on some actions to be undertaken which will be acceptable by the IATF.”
“Basketball is the Filipinos’ national pastime. But there is no denying that the PBA is faced with a tough challenge now because of the pandemic,” Abalos said in a statement released by the PBA.
“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,” he added.
Marcial’s meeting with the MMDA chief came as practices and scrimmages are still barred in Metro Manila and provinces under the NCR Plus bubble despite being placed back to General Community Quarantine last week.
NCR Plus returned to GCQ but with “heightened restrictions,” meaning some guidelines, particularly practices and guidelines, are still banned.
PBA teams are set to start full practices outside NCR Plus, namely Batangas City, Pampanga and Laoag, Ilocos Norte since these areas have looser restrictions that permit practices and scrimmages.
Batangas and Pampanga are under the normal GCQ while Ilocos Norte is implementing Modified General Community Quarantine guidelines.
Meralco has been in Laoag since the weekend, TNT left for the same city Wednesday, May 19 to start a 10-day camp while NLEX is set to hold closed-circuit training in Clark, Pampanga.
The rest are heading to Batangas City as early as Thursday, May 20 with three wooden courts — the city’s Sports Center and the campuses of Lyceum of the Philippines Batangas and Batangas State University — available for use.
All teams plan to use these venues until the IATF gives the green light for them to practice at their respective venues in the metropolis.
Full practices will be held with a promise that stricter protocols are implemented to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Marcial had earlier said that the success of the scrimmages will determine whether the season can start in the next four weeks at the earliest.