MANILA, Philippines -- The PBA Board of Governors and commissioner Willie Marcial are optimistic that the league's 45th season can still be salvaged and that teams scan resume practicing -- and playing -- sooner than later.
This, after a board meeting on Wednesday at the league office in Quezon City, where most members were physically present. It was the first time that the board met face-to-face since the PBA suspended its activities in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"The COVID situation is very uncertain, so it's something that we cannot predict. But as we follow the improvements -- we're now in GCQ (general community quarantine) -- and some of the facilities start to open, it gives you hope," said PBA chairman Ricky Vargas.
The PBA got the ball rolling by crafting a set of protocols for teams when they return to practice, which will be submitted to the Inter-Agency Task Force and the Department of Health Thurday.
If the protocols are approved by the authorities, Marcial expects teams to return to training by July.
"Sabi nga ni commissioner, let's take it a step at a time, but now is the right time to start practicing," said Vargas. "Ang practice naman, 'di pwedeng work from home."
"'Pag basketball player ka, 'di ka pwedeng work from home," he added. "Part of your work is to play and be on the court and work out with your teammates, as it is possible for you to do so in a controlled environment."
Vargas did stress that they will do all they can to keep the players and their families safe, assuring them that guidelines will be in place to remind the players of the protocols they need to observe.
Aside from following the protocols, the players must be tested for COVID-19 before they are even allowed to return to practice. "Hindi pwedeng bumalik kung walang testing," Vargas stressed.
And when the teams do return, they will be tested every 10 days to make sure that they remain free of the virus.
"We're doing all we can, we're trying to put the guidelines," said Vargas. "So that when the player comes and practices, secured naman siya and alam niya na he is free from this disease, and he's safe."
"We're also going to talk to them and educate them, inform them on how to protect themselves," he added.
The PBA Board will make a decision in August on how to proceed with the league's 45th season, with an abbreviated campaign possible. Only one All-Filipino Cup game was played back on March 8, before virtually all sports came to a halt because of the pandemic.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).