Player safety and time constraints forced the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) to reschedule its 2020-2021 season, commissioner Kenneth Duremdes said.
"Karamihan sa kanila nagsabing, 'No vaccine, no play,' muna. Karamihan 'yun ang comment," he told ABS-CBN News Tuesday.
The league is composed of 31 teams, and having to subject all of them to strict anti-COVID-19 measures will pose logistical challenges.
"Kasi nakikita namin, mahihirapan din talaga ang mga teams, lalo na kami sa MPBL. Biruin mo naman ang safety measures na kailangan namin dyan," explained Duremdes.
"Iche-check mo sila palagi, itetest palagi, ika-quarantine mo. Mahirap, and aside from that 'yung mga LGUs hindi pa ready i-open ang facility for us. Karamihan n'yan ginagamit pa for quarantine ang mga gymnasiums nila."
Another reason for the cancellation is the time required for them to complete one whole season.
It takes at least 8 months for the league founded by Sen. Manny Pacquiao to finish all its games.
"Noong una cinancel na muna natin ang opening, which is June 12 dahil wala na talagang chance. Pero kung October, November mag-start, hindi rin namin matatapos ang season, kapusin kami sa oras," said Duremdes, who plans to restart activities next year.
PLANS FOR THE REST OF 2020?
Duremdes said that, for now, the league plans to finish the rest of the Lakan Season once the government allows them to play.
San Juan is to face Makati in the North Finals while Davao Occidental will square off with Basilan in the South Finals.
Both best-of-3 series are tied at 1-all with the winners then advancing to the championship round with a similar format.
Duremdes also said there is a plan to hold a pre-season or pocket tournaments to replace the 2020-2021 MPBL season.
"Kung may vaccine na at allowed na ang contact sports, may mga preseason tournaments. Gagawa kami ng pocket tournaments for them. Meron kaming mga tournament for Northern Luzon, Manila teams, South teams," he said.
LEAVE OF ABSENCE
Duremdes acknowledged that Cebu and Pasay have formally submitted a request to take a leave of absence due to financial reasons.
"Nakikita naman natin sa business side, lahat naman apektado ng pandemic," he said, adding that Casino Alcohol, Cebu's sponsor, wants to realign the team budget to increase the production of alcohol, which experienced an upsurge in demand due to the virus.
But the commissioner said there is no longer a need for teams to take a leave since the season has been scrapped.
"Next year na kami magho-hold ng league, kasi lahat naman talaga apektado. Ang akala nila mag-se-start ng June na, pero hindi 'yun ang priority ng liga, dahil health ang priority ng liga. Naghi-heal din muna sila, hopefully maka-recover din ang mga team owners natin from the pandemic," he said.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.