Del Rosario proposes how the PBA can return; Marcial replies
A detailed proposal for the resumption of the 2020 PBA season under a controlled setup made rounds online Thursday.
In a nine-minute video presentation addressed to the league’s Board of Governors, Barangay Ginebra assistant coach Richard del Rosario fielded ideas for a conference that could theoretically run for a maximum of two months.
“I understand that even if Metro Manila is put under general community quarantine, sporting events will still not be allowed,” he said. “However, we are hoping and praying that after the GCQ is lifted, we will be given a window of opportunity wherein we can present to the government a blueprint on how sporting events, such as the PBA, can still push through, of course in compliance with government-mandated health protocols.”
Del Rosario said these suggestions, while not completely foolproof, could warrant worldwide attention and could make the PBA “a pioneer in returning professional sports during these extraordinary times.”
“The PBA will be providing a model to follow that other leagues around the world can follow, which would merit worldwide attention and unmatched value to the league,” he said. “For millions of Filipinos, the PBA is more than just basketball. It is a way of life, a love for the league that has been passed on from generations. The PBA may not earn as much from this proposed concept, but I’m hoping we will not lose the PBA and find a way to keep it alive.”
Del Rosario told ESPN5.com that he has shared the video with Ginebra team governor Alfrancis Chua and Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
“They were optimistic that there were points in the proposal that should be considered and studied further,” he said.
The proposal first offers the idea of a rapid testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to all teams. Players, coaches and staff cleared after the tests will report to a specific quarantine facility selected by the teams which would be situated near practice and game venues; those who test positive will be sent home or to a hospital for treatment.
Under the team quarantine, members will be housed together for 14 days, and only those who will not show COVID-19 symptoms will be allowed to participate in the tournament. Individuals are only allowed to go home once their mother teams have been eliminated. PBA and media personnel involved in operations will be quarantined as well.
“[The teams] can even train twice a day for 14 days. The idea is that one month’s worth of practice will be compressed in two weeks,” he said.
Only after the required initial safety steps can teams begin playing under the regular tournament format. Elimination games, according to Del Rosario, could possibly be finished in 17 days if four games are played every day.
The coach added that the PBA can structure the schedule as needed and said that there are still off days for every team within that specified timeline.
“There will be teams who will play back-to-back games, or back-to-back-to-back games. That’s also what other NBA teams do. They play back-to-back games with travel because teams are geographically located. Our advantage is since our clubs are not geographically separated, it’s easier for us to play back-to-back games,” he explained in the video.
In terms of location, Del Rosario identified five possible locations, assuming the government will not allow the PBA to gather people in the usual arenas: the Upper Deck Sports Center in Pasig, the Moro Lorenzo Gym in Quezon City, the Ronac Art Center in San Juan, the Azure Residences in Paranaque, and the Hoops Gym in Mandaluyong.
For every game day, two venues will hold two games each. The first gym will hold games at 1 p.m and 5 p.m, while the other area will have games scheduled at 3 p.m and 7 p.m.
“This will give time for venues to be disinfected in between games,” he said. “The game times are scheduled as such assuming that stay-at-home guidelines are still in place, which means that we have the audience to watch our games at those times.”
On the assumption that only a skeletal workforce will be allowed to operate during game days, Del Rosario pitched the idea of having approximately only 46 people on the floor:
- 32 people for two teams (12 players, two coaches, one physical therapist and the team manager from each team)
- 3 game officials
- 2 PBA officials
- 2 table officials for statistics and game clock management
- 4 TV production personnel to manage three fixed camera setups and cable, with the OB (outside broadcasting) van stationed outside
- 2 representatives from the Games and Amusement Board and the Department of Health
Del Rosario also suggested that the TV feed could be transmitted through a remote broadcast and replay center, similar to TV5’s setup during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Commentators will call the game live and off-tube from the media center, while the PBA Press Corps will also be allowed to cover from the broadcast center, where post-match interviews will be remotely conducted. Furthermore, Del Rosario pitched how select members of the media can be planted and quarantined with each team to provide behind-the-scenes stories.
Other logistical suggestions have also been offered by Del Rosario: Lodging will be shouldered by the team, players can chip in for food to help with expenses, and only one individual per team will be allowed to go out for basic necessities.
Del Rosario also said “the resumption of the league will mean jobs to the daily wage earners who depend on the PBA.”
“We will also fulfill our social responsibility by encouraging people to stay home and watch live sports,” added Del Rosario. “This could be the unprecedented legacy of the Board of Governors as the leaders of the PBA for finding a creative way to save the season,” he added.
“I have prepared this proposal knowing that it may be full of loose ends and improbabilities. That is why I’m offering it to the better judgment of the members of the PBA board to decide if there’s even one aspect of this proposal that we can build on.”
In a second video, Del Rosario presented how top-tier German football league Bundesliga, Taiwan’s Super Basketball League and Korean baseball’s KBO League were able to keep their operations active amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the coach admitted it would not be easy hurdling over a couple of challenges in the event that the PBA board agrees to execute the plans either in its entirety or in a modified form.
“First would be the quarantine proposal. It would entail cost and it would also separate the players from family,” he told ESPN5.com in a text message. “Also, we need to ask the players if they are willing to play under the proposed conditions. However, [if] we do it, there would be risks, and since they would be the ones playing, [they] are the ones most at risk. ”
Testing and a 14-day quarantine would be mandatory, but these would also prove to be costly. Rosario said he sourced fees from a general manager of a leading group of hotels and found that the government’s rate for using hotel rooms as quarantine facilities is at P4,000 per day for 80 rooms, with a P1,500 – P2,000 daily cost for maintaining rooms.
But according to top orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jose Raul Canlas, it could possibly still be safe for the league to send its players to their respective homes in that setup.
“Bubble might not be practical. As long as [there’s] no exposure at home, [it’s safe] so dapat disciplined,” the doctor said in the video, as quoted by Del Rosario. “Considering by then alam na ng tao how important it is to keep the PBA operating kasi it reflects on their income, siguro naman they will be disciplined. You might need some rules if any are found positive in the duration so as not to stop the league.”
Of course, another challenge would be gaining the approval of the Philippine government given how sports-related gatherings are still barred under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and the general community quarantine (GCQ).
“We’re not talking about resumption next week or next month. It is only when [the] country’s conditions have improved,” Del Rosario said.
He also mentioned in the second video how the PBA could take the same approach made by the Film Development Council of the Philippines, which succeeded in bringing back film, TV and other audiovisual shoots in areas under the MECQ and GCQ.
“This development gives us hope that we can also appeal our relevance to the appropriate government agencies because professional sports is also entertainment and would give reason for people to stay home, have a sense of normalcy and uplift public morale,” he said.
While there hasn’t been any feedback yet from the PBA Board of Governors, Del Rosario said “the most important thing is to get the discussion started and plan for contingencies.
“I’m sure there will be concerns,” he told ESPN5.com. “I trust that the Board is capable of coming up with the proper guidelines that they can present to the government.”
‘Not a priority’
Sought for comment, Commissioner Willie Marcial said the pitch made by del Rosario is not a top consideration by the Board of Governors at the moment.
“As of now, it’s in the back burner,” he told ESPN5.com in Filipino. “We’re setting it aside for now. It’s not a priority at the moment.”
“One, no LGU (local government unit) will give their permission to let teams travel and hold games in their respective areas. Two, we’re also looking at the expenses — the hotel accommodations, food, everything,” he explained. “Scheduling will also be difficult; if teams are playing on a daily basis, like in his idea, they won’t be able to practice.”
“Coach Richard made really good suggestions. But we’re putting it on the back burner first,” he added.
In the meantime, Marcial said the league will first take on the offer made by San Miguel Corporation president Ramon S. Ang through Barangay Ginebra board of governor and SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua to have all 41 of the PBA’s office employees tested first.
“We’re very thankful. We’ll have to head over to San Miguel’s office in Ortigas to have our employees tested. We’re planning the schedule first, but San Miguel said they can test at any time,” he said.
Additionally, an offer to test the league’s pool of referees was extended by Chua.
“I’ll have the employees tested first because they’re the ones going to the office. But we’re going take care of the referees next once we get closer to restarting the season,” said Marcial.
In terms of league-wide testing, the commissioner, without disclosing anyone in particular, said some teams have already begun testing inside their respective camps.
“All teams, officials and players will really have to be tested if there are any activities or if we have any plans. It’s the first priority to test all personnel – players, coaches and officials of the PBA,” Marcial said.
The PBA’s top officials, added Marcial, have also come up with health protocols in the event that the Philippine government eases restrictions on sporting events in the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ) measures.
“We’ve coordinated with the Games and Amusement Board regarding protocols,” he said. “Dugouts will have to be disinfected. Before entering the arenas, all bags will have to be sprayed. Alcohol and hand sanitizers will be placed in multiple areas and there will be temperature checks. And if they’re going to allow fans, there will also be two seats apart in venues.”
Added Marcial: “We’ve formulated these last month just in case the government allows games all of a sudden. But we’re still going to polish a lot of them.”— Source: