PBA hopes to stage three conferences for 46th season

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said on Tuesday that the league is doing its best to hold the regular three-conference schedule for its 46th season.

Important factors such as availability of the vaccine, according to Marcial, will most likely determine whether teams can field in imports in 2021.

"We are looking at the Philippine Cup first. Then we'll see if we can have imports for the next season. Because the situation may improve around the [Commissioner's Cup] start in July," said Marcial in Filipino at the PSA Forum webcast.

"Will the imports allow themselves to head here? If there's still no vaccine, how will isolation and quarantine work?" floated the executive.

The PBA, added Marcial, will be requiring all players to take the vaccine once it becomes readily available. There is also a plan for the league to acquire its own vaccines, an idea that will be pitched to the Board of Governors. Once the board gives the go-signal, the league will then seek approval from the government.

"We will donate [vaccines] to frontliners, if the government allows us to acquire ourselves, so that we can give to the needy and elderly. It's still in the planning stage but that's what we are planning," explained Marcial.

As of now, the league is open to staging the 2021 All-Filipino again inside the bubble at Clark, Pampanga, or a closed-circuit format at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. But only time will tell on how the pandemic unfolds until the league's planned opening in April.

PBA 3x3 targets Q1 2021 opening

Alaska team governor Dickie Bachmann, who is in charge of the debuting PBA 3x3 circuit, will be announcing his plans in January, according to Marcial.

There will be at least 12 teams, while two to four more squads expressed their intention of joining.

"That will be one of our agendas in January. How will we be doing it. Will it be a whole conference, staged in between conferences, or a Quest conference, as FIBA would like to put it," said Marcial. "We will try to stage it in February or March. They will start first before the 5-on-5. If we can do it, that's what we want to happen."

Rain or Shine not for sale

Elasto Painters co-owner Raymond Yu assured Marcial on a phone call that the team is staying put amid rumors of disbanding it.

"I heard it too, rumors were saying that players already had teams to go to. James Yap will be going here, Beau Belga here, then [Gabe] Norwood," recalled Marcial. "I talked with Boss Raymond Yu, he told me, 'Willie, Comm, we are not leaving the PBA. That's fake news. Don't believe.'"

Calvin Abueva's triumphant return

Marcial also heaped praise on Phoenix Super LPG forward Calvin Abueva, who seemingly turned over a new leaf in his return to the league after a lengthy suspension.

Abueva, who was banned from playing for over 16 months, was a key cog for the Fuel Masters' run to the semifinals. He emerged second in the statistical points race behind Ray Parks Jr. at the conclusion of the semifinals, according to the league tally at 37.1 SPs.

"I am so happy with what Calvin did. He does not rile up players anymore. If someone falls down, he helps them up, teammate or not. He gets triple-doubles, scores 20 points, and grabs double-digit rebounds," said Marcial. "Honestly, I was happy for Calvin personally. He has improved so much. He's very good."