PBA commissioner says swab testing required before teams can resume practices

PBA teams will have to endure a short delay in their return to practices until all players, coaches and involved personnel clear league-mandated swab tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Commissioner Willie Marcial told ESPN5.com on Tuesday that even if some teams have recently undergone tests within their own camps already, everyone will be required to pass the league's own swab testing.

Marcial said the PBA has set a schedule on August 6 and 7 at the Makati Medical Center (MMC), but declined to set an actual return date until they clear this next hurdle.

"Pagkatapos ng results, game na tayo," he said.

The PBA chief said the league decided to move its testing to MMC in order to get a quick turnaround for the swab results.

"OK 'yung sa San Miguel, kahit ilan ang testing. Ang problema 'yung results. Bente [to] singkwenta lang 'yung results, so mabagal," he explained.

The PBA moved to set testing appointments immediately after it received on Monday the joint administrative order (JAO) signed by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), Department of Health (DOH) and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

GAB chairman Baham Mitra said last weekend that teams could potentially start practices by Wednesday to Friday this week, but Marcial and the PBA are bent on allaying health concerns before letting everyone jump back into action.

Despite the new delay, Marcial said the approval to resume training is a big step in keeping the PBA's hopes of resuming the 2020 season alive.

"Nagpapasalamat ako sa government natin na binigyan tayo ng pagkakataon mag-practice. Malaking step na 'to, malaking boost sa morale ng PBA 'yung ginawa nila," he said.