By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) was rendered limited in what it was able to do last year because of the pandemic and is now seeking to be “busier” for its Season 46.
Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday afternoon, PBA officials, led by chairman Ricky Vargas and commissioner Willie Marcial, shared that they have crafted a “packed” schedule for its coming season, putting consideration on what they are allowed to do during this time of the pandemic.
Among the offerings they want to give fans are two conferences running for 10 months and the league’s inaugural 3×3 tournament.
“We’re looking forward to a 10-month PBA season. We want to give as much as basketball as possible to the fans,” said Mr. Vargas, representing the TNT team in the board and who will remain as PBA chairman for Season 46.
He also assured that the PBA is in good standing despite the challenges and difficulties presented to the league the last two years.
“We’re looking good in spite of all the challenges in 2019 and the pandemic in 2020. If we can do this right in 2021, this season 46, we will be able to recover our financial standing,” added the PBA official.
Also at the media briefing were vice-chairman Bobby Rosales (Terrafirma) and board members Al Panlilio (Meralco) and Dickie Bachmann (Alaska).
The planned 10-month PBA season is divided into four months for the Philippine Cup and six months for the Governors’ Cup.
The league is batting for a semi-bubble setup this time around as it admitted that doing a full bubble, like what was done in the lone tournament last year where all participants were holed up in Clark, Pampanga, for three months, will be expensive.
It has written to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for the PBA to hold a semi-bubble tournament which will have participants confining their travel to home-game venue-home.
The PBA is also hoping to stage its tournaments within the National Capital Region.
The All-Filipino Philippine Cup is targeted to begin on April 11.
The Governors’ Cup, meanwhile, will be a double round-robin tournament with 6’5″ imports.
Also included in the PBA season 46 calendar is a three-conference 3×3 competition, which will have 18 legs culminating in a grand championship.
All the competing teams in the PBA will field a 3×3 squad save for Alaska, whose board representative Bachmann is the chairman of the inaugural season of the event.
Guest teams are set to be part of the competition. PBA three-on-three matches are slated to be played every Friday and Saturday.
Meanwhile, Mr. Marcial said the professional league has applied to avail vaccines for the coronavirus.
The PBA chief shared that they have reached out to the Philippine Red Cross and the league is already in the list of private groups purchasing a vaccine.
They were also happy to announce that MVP Group top boss Manny V. Pangilinan has pledged 3,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine when it becomes available in the country.
“We’re hoping that before the Governors’ Cup, the players are already vaccinated. That will make things easier,” said Mr. Vargas.