MPBL studying bubble set-up to finish season

The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) bared Tuesday that is also looking at a possibility of staging the Lakan Season playoffs in a bubble-type atmosphere.

MPBL Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes said in Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum webcast that several parties have indicated their willingness to hold the league's knockout semis and titular showdown.

"Marami talagang gustong tumulong sa MPBL. Isa dyan yung Smart-Araneta Coliseum, na doon i-hold ang remaining games namin, mayroon ring Subic, so marami pang gustong tumulong para matapos lang," Duremdes told reporters.

"Ang importante talaga sa namin is yung safety. Mahirap mag-gamble dito. Once na magkamali ka, once na sumablay ka, di lang basketball apektado dito," he added.

Another prospective location being looked at, continued Duremdes, is the Tanay property of former Pres. Joseph Estrada, being offered by his son, former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.

"Yun yung famous property of former President Joseph Estrada, kung saan siya dati nag-ano, yung place na yun. And nung tumawag si Sen. Jinggoy sakin, nag-Viber siya sakin, pinakita niya yung gym, and yung mga areas and mga rooms. So sabi ko parang fit siya for a bubble dahil it's a private property, malayo, kumpleto, may kitchen, may dining hall," explained the commissioner.

Inside the 19-hectare property is Estrada's museum and personal archives, a house for rent, a small hotel, and more importantly a basketball court.

Since their television broadcast partner, ABS-CBN Sports, closed down last Aug. 31, Duremdes added that the playoffs will likely be streamed live on Facebook.

Before the league suspended play last March, the postseason was already nearing its conclusion, since there were only four teams remaining slugging it out for a spot in the best-of-five championship series.

Defending champions San Juan are trying to oust Makati in the North Division, while last season's runners-up Davao Occidental aim to dispatch Basilan in the South Division.

Ample time will also be given to the players to get back into game shape and shake off the rust accumulated from at least six months of inactivity.

However, these plans are still in its infancy since the Inter-Agency Task Force has allowed individual practices for professionals only.

If a player or league staff suddenly tests positive for COVID-19, the former PBA MVP assured that CEO Manny Pacquiao will be shouldering expenses.

"Hindi naman magda-dalawang isip yung CEO natin, and tutulungan niya yun. Marami naman atang testing kits sa ngayon na naka-prepare. May inaantay na rin siya na vaccine from China, pag na-approve na yun, I'm sure ililibre niya iyon," mentioned Duremdes.

Financial hit

Since the declaration of the pandemic and lockdown last March, no business was spared from losses, including the sponsors of the league's 31 teams.

In fact, Duremdes revealed that several clubs had indicated that they will be taking a leave of absence from the season.

However, since the next season is slated to start in June, Pacquiao expects the owners to have recouped by then.

"At least three teams ang nagpadala officially ng letter, saying that they will be having a leave of absence from the league," recalled Duremdes.

"It gives them more time to recover, hopefully, itong the whole year na wala tayong liga. Ito yung one year na baka, ang mga teams na nagsu-suffer, na baka tinamaan, ay maka-recover next year for the opening natin [on June 2021]."

Players with one-year contracts saw a reduction of 20% from their regular salaries, while longer agreements had a buyout from their respective owners.