PBA, PFF plan next steps after IATF gives go-signal to restart

The PBA is already planning its next steps after gaining approval from Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to resume practices and conditioning sessions.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement in a briefing Friday and said the IATF, in Resolution No. 51, has approved the appeals of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) to hold workouts amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

"Inaprubahan ng Philippine Sports Commission, Games and Amusement Board, at Department of Health ang isang Joint Administrative Order kung saan nakalagay ang health enhancing physical sports sa panahon ng pandemya," he said.

"Pinayagan po ang practice at conditioning ng basketball at tsaka ng football sang-ayon sa request ng PBA at ng ibang football associations."

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said he is set to meet with all coaches and team managers on July 10 to sort out some details.

"Pag-uusapan namin protocols, bubbles, baka may suggestions and comments sila," he said.

A meeting set by Board of Governors chairman Ricky Vargas will follow shortly after before the league officially gives teams permission to start practices.

"Within five to seven days after the board meeting, makakagsimula na 'yung practice," sair Marcial.

Regardless of whether the Games and Amusement Board says the PBA can hold scrimmages during the current general community quarantine (GCQ) setup, Marcial said the league plans to implement their protocols first.

Per the PBA's proposal, only four players, a medical officer and a trainer will be allowed on the court for workouts behind closed doors. These recommendations were submitted by the league last May and were included in the GAB's proposal for the restart of sports that was submitted to the IATF last week.

"Hihintayin lang namin kung protocol namin o pwede na 'yung scrimmages. Pero OK lang din naman kami kung 'yung protocol na binigay natin," he said. "Sa simula naman, 'yung gagawin namin ay 'yung protocols namin. Wala talagang scrimmages."

Marcial said the IATF's approval is an added reason to be optimistic about resuming the suspended 2020 season.

"Malaking bagay. Nagpapasalamat kami at natutuwa kami doon sa pagbibigay ng pagkakataon ng task force at ng government na binigyan tayo ng pagkakataon mag-practice," he said.

PFL teams may also resume practice

For football, the suggestions are to hold practices and games in Carmona, Cavite. A 27-page recommendation, which also adopted a FIFA risk assessment document, was forwarded also last May by the PFF.

Under the guidelines, Philippines Football League clubs can hold training sessions with no more than 10 people, with a 30-minute break in between sessions.

PFF president Marinao "Nonong" Araneta and general secretary Atty. Edwin Gastanes welcomed the development.

"We thank both IATF and GAB, headed by Chairman Abaraham Mitra, for their approval in ensuring that professional sports may push through despite the ongoing pandemic," said Araneta "The next step now is to ensure the health and safety of the players, as we prepare for the start of the PFL."

"PFF would like to emphasize that the health and safety of the players are most important in ensuring that the league pushes through this year," echoed Gastanes. "With the IATF's approval, PFL teams can now proceed to train so that players' match fitness is achieved and injury is prevented during the eventual resumption of PFL.

Meanwhile, Philippine Sports Commission officer-in-charge Ramon Fernandez said the agency will wait for more information before deciding a course of action for resumption of training of national athletes.

"We shall await more information and instructions from the IATF on the joint working group between GAB, DOH and PSC so we can proceed more efficiently and effectively," said Fernandez, who was designated OIC after chairman Butch Ramirez took a leave of absence for personal reasons.

"We plan to meet with POC and CDM Nonong Araneta to discuss the resumption of training of the national team, especially the Olympic hopefuls."