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Full sked for PBA planned

In front of his wooden desk at the PBA office, league operations director Rickie Santos sits from across a 1×2-meter white diagram board bearing dates from Oct. 19 to Jan. 23.

The numbers correspond to the period covering the 2014-2015 Philippine Cup which kicks off the PBA’s 40th season.

The classification round runs up to around the second week of December, with the quarterfinal playoffs leading to the best-of-7 semifinals starting on Dec. 11.

Reserved for the Finals are the dates Jan. 9-23, assuming the best-of-7 series goes the full route.

These are just dates, Santos reminds, and not even the venues are yet official although the “mandate” is to maximize the use of the two big venues – the Smart Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena.

Two other playing arenas are being considered – the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan, Laguna and the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City – as a third venue.
“Pag-uusapan pa yan,” Santos says, adding that once the venues are finalized, the actual scheduling of games could start.

“Madali na yon e,” says Santos, calculating that the entire first conference schedule could be ready for presentation to the PBA Board of Governors by the end of the month.

The proposed schedule, along with the format, will then be deliberated on by the board during its planning session next month during the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea where Gilas Pilipinas will be flying next after its historic stint in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain starting Aug. 30.

No longer being required to compress the schedule to a near breathless fit as last season has given the PBA master planner enough leeway to move the pieces around more comfortably.

“We played 11 games a week the last time out, including Mondays; now we’re down to nine games a week – four double-headers and one provincial game,” Santos says.

Ironically, the addition of two new teams – Kia Motors and Blackwater Sports – has expanded the scheduling calendar.

“Mas maluwag ngayon,” says Santos, who adds that six provincial games will be inserted in the Philippine Cup timetable.