PBA keeping fingers crossed for IATF approval

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2020 12:59 PM

PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has already submitted its request to resume its season in a "bubble" in Clark, and the league hopes to get a response from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) by the end of the week.

PBA chairman Ricky Vargas revealed in an interview on "Power and Play" with former PBA commissioner Noli Eala that they sent a letter to the IATF last Friday. Previously, the league also asked permission for teams to hold scrimmages.

"By Thursday or Friday, titingnan natin kung papayagan tayo mag-scrimmages dito sa Metro Manila," PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said in a press conference last Thursday.

"Kung hindi, bigyan tayo ng go-signal na mag-scrimmages sa Clark, diretso na sa game. So 'yun lang ang iniintay natin," he added.

The PBA plans to restart the All-Filipino Cup in Clark by October 9, with teams to be housed in a hotel in the city. They will each have a dedicated bus that will bring them to the Angeles University Foundation gym, while three other facilities will be made available for practices.

Vargas is optimistic that they will soon receive the green light to enter the bubble, as the IATF's testing czar, Vince Dizon, is also the president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority. They are also counting on the support of Noel Maninkil, the chief executive officer of the Clark Development Corporation.

"Ang kagandahan dito, we are also working with Secretary Vince and the chairman of Clark, chairman Maninkil, and also we are in touch with GAB chairman (Baham Mitra) who's been very very helpful in seeing to it that sports continue on the professional side," said Vargas.

"So we have our fingers crossed," he added.

Both Vargas and Marcial assured that the PBA has put strict protocols in place, and that they are ready to follow whatever guidelines will be implemented by the IATF and the Department of Health. Their confidence is boosted by the facilities located in Clark, as there are hospitals in the city as well as a testing laboratory.

The testing of the teams inside the bubble will be shouldered by the hosts, Vargas and Marcial also revealed.

"At the end of the day, sabi nga nila, we need to follow all the IATF and the Department of Health protocols. And we will do that, we will do that. And we will patiently wait for their approval," Vargas said.

If and when they get the IATF's approval, Vargas believes it will make an impact on the Filipinos who have waited patiently for the league's return.

Not only will they create jobs -- particularly for those within the bubble -- but they will also boost the morale of basketball-loving Filipinos, said Vargas.

"Bringing (the PBA) back on air is a win, not only from an entertainment value but from a mental health or from an economic (point of view)," he explained. "There is hope. So we think we can contribute to that."

"There was one bidder who said, we asked him, what is your motivation to bid for this games. He says, 'I just want to give work to my people.' So that touched us also. 'Yun ang importante. And our role is to keep them safe," Vargas added.

The PBA suspended all of its activities last March, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Only one game in the Philippine Cup was played before games were put on hold -- the finals rematch between San Miguel Beer and Magnolia.