Multiple-venue options a good problem

Batangas City, Clark City, Subic, Ilocos Norte, Antipolo.

Each of these areas are seriously being considered either as practice venues or  possible playing facilities for the coming PBA season.

A few days ago, the PBA opened the possibilities of holding games or full scrimmages in Batangas City where three potential venues are seriously being looked at. It has the Batangas City Coliseum, which has been regularly staging provincial games for the pro league. The said venue served as the home court of the Batangas City Athletics, the inaugural staging champion of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.

Two other venues in the area are likewise being offered, according to league commissioner Willie Marcial and Alfrancis Chua, Barangay Ginebra’s representative to the PBA board, who were able to meet the local government officials in the area.

Looking at Batangas, it offers not just a track record in holding games, but also the convenience it provides. The province can be easily accessed. From the metropolis going to Batangas City, you can reach it about an hour and a half driving via South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Star Tollway.

Clark City, on the other hand, made its presence felt last year when it hosted the PBA’s bubble tournament. Its successful staging of the league’s previous season had certainly boosted its resume and it became its calling card to being chosen by FIBA as the venue for the next window of the Asia Cup Qualifiers to be held in June.

 What about its accessibility?

The PBA made it clear that intends to hold a close circuit tournament where participants will follow a strict protocol of home to venue procedure. It is a stark contrast from last year’s bubble tournament where the entire delegation spent staying in one area for a three-month period.

Not only it is draining mentally and physically for the participants, it was also more damaging financially for the league in general.      

Should the league decide to use Clark as an option, participants will have to travel back and forth on a regular basis for the next few months. A two-hour travel via North Luzon Expressway won’t be much draining as most of us are used to enduring traffic.

Then, there’s Subic, Ilocos Norte and Antipolo.

Subic was able to stage the bubble playoff of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League a few months ago and travel access to the area won’t be much of a problem. So as the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

But Antipolo, one of the cities in Rizal, is still under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine, and the league will have to wait for cases to go down in the metropolis before considering the Ynares Sports Center in Antiolo as an alternative venue.

And then, there’s Ilocos Norte.

The province, headed by Govenor Mathew Manotoc, a sportsman himself, is offering a bubble set up, but since the league is more open to staging a close circuit event, Ilocos Norte can offer its venue as training facility instead.

But choosing Ilocos Norte means teams will be open to hold a bubble training. For how long? Depends on how much these squads are willing to spend.

Whether the games and scrimmages will be held in South or North Luzon, we can consider this as a good problem for the PBA. Having plenty of venues to choose from gives the league and the teams more flexibility in starting with their preparation to opening the new season.

Who knows, by the time the league is able to start its new season, COVID-19 cases in the metropolis would have continued its downward trend leading to the implementation of a Modified General Community Quarantine, the least strict quarantine procedure, which would be the right time for the PBA to stage the games in the National Capital Region.

The situation looks promising for the PBA’s opening of its new season. For now, the league has to wait for the IATF approval, permission from the LGUs and the corresponding government agencies.

But as law-abiding citizens themselves, the entire PBA family is likewise encouraging the public to continuously follow COVID-19 protocols and be a contributor in improving the country’s condition in our battle against this pandemic.

 It will only be a matter of time before we can see them back on the court, hear the bounce of a basketball and the cheers of the league’s loyal fandom.   

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