Staying put: Marcial wants PH Cup elims to end up north

Willie Marcial tempers hassle-free expectations. —PBA IMAGES

Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) commissioner Willie Marcial was naturally delighted with the news that the National Capital Region will be under the more relaxed General Community Quarantine starting on Wednesday.

But he is not too keen in moving the games back to the capital just yet.

“That’s really good news. But let me raise this: What happens right after? We don’t really know, right?” he told the Inquirer on Monday, right after the national government announced Metro Manila’s quarantine classification from Sept. 8 through 30.

According to Marcial, the rosiest approach for the time being is to finish the elimination round of the Philippine Cup, which is currently staged at Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

“We wouldn’t know what the next classification after that will be. Restrictions can be downgraded, but the government can also revert to extreme lockdowns,” the league chief said.

“We can only make a decision by the third week of September,” he added. “We really have to carefully monitor the situation.”

The health department’s daily COVID-19 tally painted a grim picture later that afternoon. New infections hit 22,415, which again reset the all-time record for a single day.

The league’s restart week was not spared by infections as well. NorthPort was placed under the league’s health protocols just a day before the league kicked off its reboot. The matches between San Miguel Beer and Alaska, along with that of defending champion Barangay Ginebra and Meralco during the weekend were shelved for the same reason following the league’s added layer of antigen testing.

Marcial said there’s no reason for the league to push the panic button just yet.

“Dr. (Raul) Canlas said there’s nothing to be alarmed about. He said that this is expected from the Delta variant. The NBA (National Basketball Association), the Tokyo Olympics, they did checks before their games, after the games, and results still yielded positive cases. It’s all because of the Delta variant,” he said. INQ

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