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PBA returns under Covid cloud



(PBA Images)

Games Wednesday:


12:30 p.m. – TNT vs Blackwater

3:00 p.m. – San Miguel vs Terrafirma

6:00 p.m. – Magnolia vs Meralco


After a three-week break, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) resumes its Philippine Cup under the cloud of Covid-19 pandemic.

Magnolia, the hottest team before the break, seeks to resume its winning ways when it battles Meralco in the 6 p.m. main game of the explosive tripleheader that would be staged under a semi-bubble setup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University (DHVSU) Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga on Wednesday.

Tipping things off will be TNT Tropang Giga which battles Blackwater at 12:30 p.m. while San Miguel Beer and Terrafirma collide in the second game at 3 p.m.

The league is keeping its fingers crossed for the successful restart of its season-opening conference as it would be staged two days after the country logged the highest number of single-day Covid-19 infection of 22,366 since the pandemic broke out last year.

With that, players, coaches, team officials and PBA players underwent RT-PCR testing last Monday while the league is set to implement stricter set of protocols throughout the entire conference.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said players who will violate their semi-bubble protocols would be meted with a P75,000 fine on top of suspension without pay.

The league will also impose a P1,000 fine for delegates who would be caught without masks during the game and hotel premises.

Aside from their weekly testing every Monday, the teams are also required to undergo antigen testing hours before their scheduled games.

The PBA and the Pampanga government also reached a threshold agreement that a team will be held off for 10 days once it yields three positive cases.

If six teams report three or more cases within each squad, the league will be forced to stop its entire tournament.

Right now, Metro Manila is still under moderate enhanced community quarantine, but once the number of cases dwindles and local health authorities downgrades the quarantine status, the league will bring back the games to the Ynaras Sports Arena in Pasig City.

After posting four consecutive wins before the league took a break on 4 August, Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero vowed to pick up where they left out as their main gunner in Paul Lee had already recovered from a knee injury last month.

Aside from Lee, newly-acquired forward Calvin Abueva, Mark Barroca and Ian Sangalang will also be back in action to help the Hotshots tighten their grip on the leadership.

“We are doing okay, we are now getting the proper conditioning and timing,” Victolero told the Daily Tribune Tuesday.

“Paul has already started joining five-on-five practices, but of course we are still observing his overall condition.”

But Meralco is ready to wage war to improve its 4-1 card.

Veteran tactician Norman Black said the Bolts are already in game shape and are they eyeing a strong performance from their top scorers Chris Newsome, Mac Belo and Allein Maliksi.

“Our practices have gone smoothly since we arrived here in Pampanga. The players have been getting into better shape and luckily we are injury-free,” Black said.