By JONAS TERRADO
The PBA said it will wait for the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases to subside before action in the season-ending Governors’ Cup can resume.
Members of the league’s Board of Governors approved the decision of the PBA Commissioner’s Office to extend the earlier decision of postponing this week’s games in light of an incredible uptick of cases in the aftermath of the holiday season.
“We can’t put the people under our case at risk, ganun din yung mga makakasalamuha nila. Mabuti na yung nag-iingat,” PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said Thursday, Jan. 6.
The latest decision was another setback for the league, which has slowly made some progress with the return of games in Metro Manila along with the presence of fans when action shifted to the Smart Araneta Coliseum before Christmas.
About 4,800 fans were on hand during the league’s Christmas Day doubleheader highlighted by Magnolia Pambansang Manok’s 23-point rout of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
But the sudden rise in positive cases prompted the national government to place Metro Manila back under Alert Level 3, meaning that the PBA can only stage games under a bubble setup.
Full practices have also been put to a halt, with teams only allowed to hold individual workouts to assure that health and safety protocols are observed.
“It’s always a painful decision to postpone PBA games,” said PBA chairman Ricky Vargas. “But at this time when the infection rate is rising, the risk of continuing with the games for our players, officials and staff far outweigh our financial loss.”
“The PBA will be back. It’s just a temporary pause to allow healing. This way we can assure our fans the quality of games will be sustained,” added Vargas.
As it now plays the waiting game, the league will work on finding ways on how it can resume the Governors’ Cup when the opportunity arises.
The impression is that games are likely to once again be played without fans, similar to the setup in the final week of the Governors’ Cup held at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The league will also need to secure a clearance from Local Government Units before proceeding with the Governors’ Cup restart.
Meantime, Japan’s B.League will no longer stage its All-Star event next week in Okinawa due to rising COVID-19 cases in the country, the league announced Thursday, Jan. 6.
The All-Star Game and an exhibition match that will see all nine Filipinos from both the first and second divisions slated Jan. 14 and 15 were all scrapped as some teams were hit with infections plus the COVID-19 situation in the Okinawa prefecture.
“We have been preparing for the event with the help of many people, including Okinawa Prefecture and Okinawa City. We would like to express our gratitude to Okinawa Prefecture, Okinawa City, Okinawa Prefecture Basketball Association, partner companies, media, and all concerned for their cooperation,” said B.League president Shinji Shimada.
“And I think that many fans are disappointed that it has been canceled for the second consecutive year. I am very sorry,” he added.
Brothers Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Ray Parks Jr., Kobe Paras, Dwight Ramos, Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano and Kemark Carino were supposed to play for the Asian All-Stars against the Rising Stars team which included Matthew Aquino.