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GAB hails PBA as model league in pandemic

GAB hails PBA as model league in pandemic

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GAB chair Baham Mitra

The Games and Amusements Board (GAB) on Monday hailed the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) for putting together a viable model of self-regulation during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We really want to commend the PBA,” chair Abraham Mitra said at a virtual presser on Monday, just a couple of days before the league’s projected reopening in Bacolor, Pampanga, this Wednesday.

“They know that whatever happens to their league affects other leagues and other sports as well. We’re thanking the PBA for being responsible during this [challenging times],” he went on.

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Asia’s pioneering pro league is set to reboot its stalled Philippine Cup at Don Honorio Ventura State University, which is less than an hour’s drive away from the PBA’s selected lodging and practice sites across the cities of San Fernando, Angeles and the Municipality of Mexico.

The first cycle of COVID-19 screening was conducted on Monday. A five-day schedule is expected to be released by Tuesday noon, as soon as the results are all accounted for, according to league officials.

Commissioner Willie Marcial earlier said that the league was adapting a more collaborative approach in its bid to forge ahead with its season. A group of team skippers, he said, even volunteered to shoulder living expenses during their stay in Pampanga just so the league is able to go on during the pandemic.

But more than the initiative, Marcial knows that it would be utmost discipline and cautiousness that will pull the PBA through as it rides out restrictions in Metro Manila.

“I told [the players] to ‘police your ranks,’” he shared during a previous Inquirer interview.

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The PBA was the first league to secure clearance from the national government last year to continue playing games during the pandemic. The league salvaged its season through an expensive bio-secure project in October, also in Pampanga, laying down the groundwork for many bubble tournaments now being replicated by other leagues.

The PBA has found itself at the forefront of Philippine sports once again, especially with the Tokyo Olympic Games now done and the National Basketball Association in its off-season. Only this time, the league is hoping that a less restrictive setup works just as fine.

With virtually its delegation inoculated with the vaccine, the PBA went for a semi-bubble that uses a home-venue-home route, but made tests weekly, improving its old 14-day scheme. An additional antigen will also be done for teams playing for each day, according to league officials.

“We thank the PBA for being responsible and being very responsive to the changing times [brought on by] the pandemic,” said Mitra. INQ

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