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COVID-19 cases must go down before opening PBA season, gov't tells Marcial

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and Senator Bong Go discussed how the PBA can play its new season amid the pandemic. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The national government has given the PBA one major prerequisite for the league to play its 46th season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press conference on Thursday, Commissioner Willie Marcial relayed what went down in his talk with San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, and Senator Bong Go on Wednesday.

According to Marcial, Medialdea and Go told him and Chua to wait for the active COVID-19 cases to dwindle further in number especially in the NCR Plus area before the PBA can begin discussing on how to start the season.

"Ang sinasabi nila, 'Maski na na-vaccine na tayo, kung hindi bababa yung cases, hindi pa rin matutuloy ang PBA,'" Marcial said.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, there are still 69,354 active COVID-19 cases in the country.

While already a far cry from the whopping 200,000 active cases the country posted earlier in the month, it is assumed to be still far from the optimal level for the government to allow the PBA to push through.

In fact, after almost two weeks of mass recovery reports, the number of active cases slightly increased with 8,276 new confirmed cases compared to 6,636 recoveries.

The NCR Plus area remains under the modified enhanced community quarantine until May 14.

Currently, professional sporting events and practice scrimmages are only allowed in places under the modified general community quarantine, while the teams are only limited to individual player training when their areas are under the regular GCQ.

However, Marcial said that the PBA can appeal to the Inter-Agency Task Force at league for the scrimmages to push through just after the MECQ ends.

"Meron tayong appeal sa task force. Nagbigay kami ng sulat kay ES Medialdea na kung pwede tayong magsimula na ng scrimmages after MECQ," he further said, adding that the government might call on PBA officials to justify why the league should begin Season 46 as soon as possible.

Marcial then said that he, Chua, PBA board chairman Ricky Vargas, and vice chairman Bobby Rosales might be the ones going to Malacanang to plead their case.

The league is aiming to open Season 46 by late May or sometime in June.

Marcial and Chua have maintained that the PBA is eyeing a closed circuit format for the new season at the Ynares Center in Antipolo, although setting another bubble has not yet been ruled out.

In the meantime, Marcial has called on the PBA fans to do their part in curbing COVID-19.

"Magtulung-tulong tayo para sa ating bansa na mapababa natin ang cases," he said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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