The 45th season of the PBA was supposed to coincide with the 35th year of the Alaska Aces, one of the most recognizable teams in the league, but the pandemic has put a halt to all play.
Alaska Aces owner Wilfred Uytengsu went on Sports Page to share his thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected sports.
"So what's happening is that people want some form of normalcy and there's been a tremendous push to try and restore that. The challenge is, is it safe?" Uytengsu said.
Uyengsu, though, doubts things will go back to the way things were before the pandemic struck.
"Everyone wants to return back to normal, but the reality is that we will not go back to normal," Uytengsu said, "People forget that after 9/11, the way we travel internationally and on airplanes changed significantly. You didn't have body searches, you didn't have x-ray machines, you didn't have to take off your shoes, you didn't have to be screened two or three times. Today when we travel, we don't really question it anymore."
The Aces owner said he was staying in the United States and observing what the NBA is doing in Florida.
"I was on a call with Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum of the NBA, he was explaining the things that they were doing," he shared, "Let's learn from some of the best sports franchises and organizations in the world and what they do, what they can do, what works, what doesn't work, and then let's see how we can adapt that in our own setting with the PBA."
Uytengsu cautioned his players not to take the coronavrius disease lightly. "I told the guys first and foremost I want you to treat this seriously, I want you to respect this pandemic because you don't see it, it's not like something is there and you avoid it," he said. But at the same time, Uytengsu encouraged his players to do home workouts and connect through online applications.
"As human beings, we're social animals. we like to be with other people, we like to talk, we like to hug, we like to kiss, beso-beso. I mean, that's really at the end of the day, what we are as human beings and if you're alone, we got a couple of players who are bachelors, that's very hard," Uytengsu shared, mentioning the incidents of mental health cases around the world,
"So what we try to do is stay engaged. Stay engaged with our players, have them interact in as many ways as they can and as frequently as possible. You can only watch so much Netflix."
The Aces owner thinks the best scenario for the PBA would be to play at least one conference for its 45th season, but admitted that the game might not be at a high level at first due to the lack of team practices.
"No matter how hard you're working at home, it's not like you have your teammates to push you. You can do as much as you can, you think you're working hard, but there's no substitute for competition," he said.
Uytengsu also thanked Alaska's loyal supporters, whom he calls "some of the best fans in the PBA."
"When we do have a safer environment, we'll have them back whether it's in the Araneta or wherever we're playing at that point in time. So to our Alaska fans, wala pa ring tatalo sa Alaska," Uytengsu said.