FilBasket debut in peril as GAB looking to step in

FilBasket debut in peril as GAB looking to step in

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—The newest regional basketball league in the country could get into deep trouble a week before its supposed inaugural games.

The Games and Amusements Board said that it might step in if FilBasket pushes through with its Oct. 28 start in Olongapo, further reiterating that only professional leagues can push through amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

GAB legal division chief Omar Benitez claimed that the league, founded by former PBA and ABL player Jai Reyes, should have consulted national government agencies concerned first before organizing such event.

"Dumeretso sila sa regional task force, not sa IATF, GAB or PSC, at DOH," Benitez said during GAB's monthly press conference.

He then said that FilBasket cannot simply push through with its first season even if the COVID-19 situation in Olongapo is not as bad as other areas.

"Two aspects kasi yan, yung approval ng GAB at PSC and yung pandemic concern. Even if assuming in-allow sila ng IATF sa local (regional task force), meron pa rin silang sagutin because yung sports regulation, aspects at safety is not covered. So, sino yung magre-regulate sa regional? Hindi lang sa aspects ng sports and regulation, but also sa health and safety regulations. Ina-appoint nga ang GAB, PSC at DOH on top of this because yan yung mga agencies na may expertise. You cannot just pick any agency or any group to undertake a sports bubble ng walang paalam. Hindi sila pwedeng doon lang dumeretso without the implementer of GAB and the PSC as the case made," Benitez explained.

Although he clarified that there were some talks between them, Benitez insisted that FilBasket should not push through at all amid the pandemic.

He even hinted that legal actions might be done regarding this.

"We will be attacking it from the point of view of PD 871 on the regulation of professional basketball under the GAB. It’s non-negotiable so we have to put our foot down. But we cannot let you in yet, as of now, kung ano yung specific legal actions that will be take," Benitez further said.

Reyes has been insisting that his league, which will have 11 clubs including MPBL powerhouses San Juan and Davao Occidental for its debut, is de jure "amateur".

GAB official Rodil Manaog assumed that FilBasket took some notes from the MPBL, which still considers itself as amateur too, and used the DOH circular on holding non-pro leagues amid the pandemic.

But Benitez said that this issue must be fixed as soon as possible so that FilBasket could finally be cleared to start.

"Kailangan ayusin yan. I was telling the GAB team with the emergency meeting about this. Ang IATF hindi yan iisang tao, meron sigurong lack of coordination baka kailangan ng kaunting paliwanagan, ma-lay down the rules to them, and we will do that, but at the end of the day, kapag hindi pa rin susunod ang FilBasket, abangan na lang natin kung ano yung magiging legal actions ng GAB about it," he further said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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