By JONAS TERRADO
PBA teams could be allowed to hold 5-on-5 scrimmages in areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) starting May 18 following the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force.
Commissioner Willie Marcial plans to meet with players, coaches and team managers next week to begin the process of ensuring the success of the full practices.
The IATF approved Friday (May 7) the PBA’s request to have scrimmages in GCQ areas, subject to the health and safety protocols that will be approved by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
Marcial is also set to discuss the protocols with GAB chairman Baham Mitra, whose agency is part of the Joint Administrative Order.
Scrimmages were only allowed previously under Modified General Community Quarantine.
“Ang magandang balita pinayagan na tayo magpractice at mag-hold ng scrimmages. Di lang natin alam kung sa NCR ba, Batangas ba or sa Antipolo so yun ang liliwanagan natin,” Marcial said in a virtual press briefing from Batangas City.
Marcial was in his hometown meeting with local officials and an inspection of three wooden courts that could be used as possible practice venues, namely the Batangas City Sports Center, Lyceum of the Philippines University and Batangas State University.
Batangas City is currently under GCQ which allows PBA teams to have 5-on-5 scrimmages.
But the league is also monitoring the possibility that Metro Manila and provinces under NCR Plus could return to GCQ regulations before the start of scrimmages.
Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Bulacan are under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) until May 14, and there are talks that the restrictions could be downgraded to GCQ due to a decrease in the COVID-19 reproduction rate.
The PBA previously had talks with the provincial government of Rizal regarding the possible staging of the 46th season at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City under a closed-circuit setup prior to the implementation of strict lockdown guidelines.
About five to seven teams are eyeing Batangas City as a possible practice venue while some teams, including NLEX, are mulling on holding their own scrimmages in the north.
Among the protocols Marcial mentioned is for teams to undergo two swab tests before the start of scrimmages and other stricter guidelines to assure the safety of the teams and to avoid the possible outbreak in the area.
Meanwhile, the IATF also approved the staging of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers next month in Clark, Pampanga.
About eight teams from three groups including Gilas Pilipinas are slated to see action in the final phase of the continental qualifiers.
Horse racing, meanwhile, was also allowed to resume without the presence of spectators in areas under MECQ.