PBA’s return to offer hope to struggling nation

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is hopeful for its return to play so that it can provide not just entertainment but hope for a nation that has been brought to its knees by the coronavirus pandemic.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial disclosed during the recent PSA Forum that the league is incurring financial losses of P20 million each month, losses which may continue even if the league is allowed to resume later this year.

However, Marcial says the PBA’s return is more than just about earnings but rather, giving hope to people and the sports landscape in general. Sports tournaments and leagues all over the Philippines have ground to a halt ever since COVID-19 broke out.

Here in Cebu, the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (CESAFI) has already announced it was cancelling its 2020 season.

THE PBA Commissioner's Office incurs losses of about P20 million a month and may continue to see red even if the league is able to resume play late in the year, with basketball fans likely to stay at home and watch the games on TV.

"Hindi na ito about earnings. Ang importante makabalik laro at makapagbigay pagasa at makapagbigay saya," said Marcial. "Kapag nakabalik ang PBA, inspiration ito sa lahat ng sports leagues sa bansa at sa lahat ng mga tao. Sasabihin nila 'eto na ang PBA; nakabalik sila, makakabalik din tayo."

The PBA Commissioner’s Office has already forwarded its protocols and guidelines to the Inter-Agency Task Force. If given approval, the PBA may set the bar for every other league in town.

"I hope ma-consider ng IATF, and it would be a step-by-step process, at kung ma-lift na ang mga restrictions, hopefully we can proceed with our games," chimed in deputy commissioner Eric Castro during the same forum that was held online.

Leagues in the United States, Europe, South Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei have already opened up shop, giving Marcial hope that the same can be done for the PBA’s 45th season, which played just one game before it got indefinitely suspended.

"Malaking bagay yon, at kahit iyong maliliit na development sa ibang lugar, malaki ang maitutulong noon sa PBA," said Marcial.

If and when the PBA is allowed to return, Castro said they would just go through the All-Filipino tournament and it will carry the same mechanics and format. (JNP)