NBA cheering for PBA in restart

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 01 2020 02:03 PM | Updated as of Oct 01 2020 03:15 PM

PBA players arrive in Clark, Pampanga on September 29, 2020 for the duration of the All-Filipino Cup which will restart on October 11. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The NBA is monitoring the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as it attempts to restart its season in a bubble, after sharing their protocols and best practices with the league.

Scott Levy, managing director of NBA Asia, told reporters Wednesday that they are "very excited" for the PBA, which is set to resume the All-Filipino Cup on October 11 in a bubble at Clark, Pampanga.

"(We are) very much aware and very well-connected to the PBA. We have shared our protocols with them already," Levy said in a conference call. 

"We've shared them with the PBA, and we are staying connected, and available for any questions that they may have. We are rooting for them to be successful, and very excited that the PBA will be starting up again soon," he added.

Like the NBA, the PBA had to pause its season in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. While the NBA resumed playing in July, it took the PBA a bit more time to get going because of the strict quarantine restrictions in the Philippines.

After long discussions with several government agencies, including the Games and Amusements Board and the Inter-Agency Task Force, the PBA finally received a go-signal to restart two weeks ago. Teams arrived in Clark earlier this week, and some squads have already begun practicing after returning negative results from their swab tests.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial expressed his gratitude to the NBA for their help and willingness to give them advice on how to proceed with the bubble.

"Nagpapasalamat kami na mino-monitor tayo ng NBA," Marcial said in a phone interview with ABS-CBN News. "Nagpapasalamat talaga ako sa tulong ng NBA at nagmo-monitor sila sa atin. Malaking bagay sa atin 'yun."

"Kung mangangailangan kami ng tulong talaga sa kanila, ako mismo ang kakausap sa kanila," he added.

Things are running smoothly so far inside the PBA's bubble, with Magnolia, Phoenix, Terra Firma, Meralco and TNT already holding scrimmages at the Angeles University Foundation (AUF) Gym.

According to Levy, the NBA has helped not just the PBA but other leagues as well, as their protocols have been widely disseminated.

"Many leagues around the world, anybody who wants them, we will share. We're all in this together," he stated. 

Even in the United States, the major sports leagues are coordinating with each other to determine the best way to move forward in the midst of the pandemic. 

Leagues have gone about their seasons differently: the National Women's Soccer League and the Major League Soccer successfully completed tournaments in bubbles all the way back in July, and the NBA and the WNBA are competing in bubbles as well. National Football League teams are playing their games in their home stadiums, with some of them even welcoming a small number of fans. 

"Of course, we hope to do that when we start next season," said Levy of having fans back in the arenas.

"The cooperation across sporting properties has been incredible, and it will definitely continue. If you hear of anybody that's looking for anything, anything from us, we're here and ready to share and advise however we can," he stressed.