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PBA commissioner Willie Marcial explains why NCR return for PH Cup Finals ruled out

Jayson Castro gets to play the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at his high school alma mater, although a return to Pasig was considered. PBA Images (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Even if Metro Manila has been placed under Alert Level 3 for the rest of October, the PBA still decided to play its upcoming Philippine Cup Finals in Pampanga.

Reports surfaced that the league was considering making a return to Pasig for the remainder of the season-opening conference after Metro Manila adopted the new COVID-19 Alert Level System.

But with the requirement from the Games and Amusements Board that professional sports games must be held inside a bubble for areas under Alert Level 3, the PBA eventually dropped the idea and opted to stay in Bacolor.

"OK naman tayong lumipat sa NCR kasi two teams na lang yan, pero sa tingin namin, mas safe ang mga players na nandoon sa Pampanga," Commissioner Willie Marcial explained the decision to have the championship series between TNT and Magnolia at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in the said Pampanga town.

Marcial and the key persons from both teams met the media online in a virtual presser on Tuesday, the day before the best-of-seven series begins.

Marcial also said that moving the Finals back to the Ynares Sports Arena, where the PBA held its games for the first month of competition, might mean the logistics team may ask for time to set everything up.

"Pag lumipat tayo dito, kailangan ng logistics natin mga 4-5 days para ma-set up ang television at yung mga gamit natin," he bared.

Another factor the league officials considered, according to Marcial, is the possibility of Metro Manila being placed back to Alert Level 4 for November.

In an updated rules for the opening of industries under the new COVID-19 Alert Level System, contact sports are not allowed at all under Alert Level 4, which might prompt the PBA to find another place to hold games if it was the case.

"Kung tumaas na naman ang Alert Level sa Metro Manila, ibig sabihin babalik na naman kami sa Pampanga kung papayagan uli ako ni Governor [Dennis] Pineda," Marcial continued, further saying that another five-day window must be needed to set up everything.

Both the Hotshots and the Tropang Giga have been cleared to play at least the first three games of the series this week amid the pandemic.

National Task Force Against COVID-19 official Darwin Wee clarified to Dugout Philippines that unlike the 15 provinces that are now implementing the new alert level system, Pampanga will still be using the old community quarantine system, although Pampanga is under the lightest modified general community quarantine.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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