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Marcial prioritizes PBA’s safety

With NCR+ under Alert Level 3, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said yesterday he’s postponing the resumption of the Governors’ Cup games for “peace of mind” until IATF confirms a less serious condition that will allow contact sports to be played with or without a live audience. Marcial submitted his proposal to the PBA Board of Governors in an emergency meeting the other day and it was approved.

Alert Level 3 was imposed from Jan. 3 to 15. It remains to be seen whether there will be an extension but with cases rising all over the country, a renewal appears imminent. Games and Amusements Board chairman Baham Mitra said during Alert Level 3, “all contact sports…shall be suspended except those conducted under a bubble-type set-up.” Mitra said teamwork is essential for the GAB and PBA to work together for the health and safety of all concerned.

So far, 26 games were held by the PBA since the start of the Governors’ Cup last Dec. 8 under Alert Level 2. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant has not spared the PBA and sources said several players from most teams were recently tested positive. As quickly as it infects, the virus goes away but isolation is required to avert contamination. Marcial said when the first Alert Level 3 deadline ends on Jan. 15, the PBA will reassess the situation to determine when to continue the games with a high level of confidence of no infection.

“Kung pumunta ka sa venue at mag-test ng negative, paglabas mo, sigurado ba na negative ka pa?” said Marcial. “Paano ang pamilya mo? Kawawa mga asawa, anak at ibang mga kasama sa bahay. ‘Di ko malukluk na baka mahawa mga anak at pamilya. Alam ko, kung order ng PBA maglaro, maglalaro mga players at trabaho ‘yan nila. Pero at what cost? Hindi magpapa-bida ang PBA at maraming masasalanta. Hintayin natin ang pasya ng IATF bago tago magdesisyon kung kelan tayo babalik. Depende yan sa sitwasyon at basa ng gobyerno.”

Marcial said from his knowledge, (local government units) LGUs have been given control in coordination with Department of Health to supersede previous JAO resolutions in determining the conduct of contact sports under different alert levels. The PBA has staged games under different conditions – full bubble in Clark, semi-bubble in Pasig and Bacolor and daily antigen testing for each game day with limited audience at the Smart Araneta Coliseum plus weekly RT-PCR swabs. Marcial said at the moment, scrimmages are prohibited and teams may practice only in small group clusters of four players, one coach, one PT or safety officer and one utility staff.

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