Barring more hitches, fans-less Govs’ Cup restart seen happening early next month

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial


The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) leadership has agreed to resume the Governors’ Cup early next month, thawing the import-laced conference frozen by COVID-19 and keeping it on track for a summertime conclusion.

“The team governors have unanimously agreed to restart next month,” commissioner Willie Marcial told the Inquirer over the phone right after his virtual meeting with all of the 12 club executives. “My target is to get going by early February. We’ve already gotten the (Games and Amusements Board’s) nod, so we’re just going to iron out some minor things.”

Up next for the league chief is a crucial sit-down with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Benhur Abalos for an endorsement to six cities which will determine the earliest date teams could return to scrimmages.

“Once we get a hold of a go signal from the local governments, then we can start counting down. We’re looking at 10 days worth of training before plunging back to action,” Marcial said.

Monday’s development was the rosiest possible scenario for the league, which also considered sending home foreign reinforcements in anticipation of the stoppage dragging on.

“As of now, there’s no need for that,” he said of the drastic measure that would’ve helped teams deal with the financial drain. “So far, the governors were all saying that we push through.”

Finish before Holy Week

Games will continue to be played as originally scheduled—twin bills from Wednesdays until Sundays—with an option to stage triple-headers should the league run into another hitch along the way.

“If we get to really restart by early February, we can finish the conference right before the Holy Week break. If there’s a need to adjust, then we’ll do just exactly that,” Marcial said.

“The latest we could wrap things up is around early May. But I’ve already asked the Governors for more patience as that could push the drafting of rookies to a later date—say around three to four weeks after we end the season,” he added.

Marcial said he is also planning to meet with Dr. Jose Raul Canlas, the PBA’s designated medical advisor, to discuss if there’s still a need to shore up the league’s testing protocols.

Players, coaches, team staff and even journalists were subjected to go through a weekly polymerase chain reaction test on top of a couple of antigen screenings before they were allowed to enter the venue.

With alert level 3 still up in the Metro, fans will again be barred from seeing the games live again. The tournament played in front of a live audience for the first time in close to two years last month at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao. INQ

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