Palawan, in my last article we mentioned the exciting games of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Lakan season playoffs and as this new league, on its third conference, moves deeper into the knockout rounds, games are proving to be more intense and vigorous! Just over the last week we have seen major knockout games in the semifinal with Makati advancing to the North Division Finals by winning a nail biter vs Manila, San Juan clearing the hurdle against Pampanga, Basilan knocking out Bacoor and Davao Occidental winning over Zamboanga.

I was able to watch the Basilan and Bacoor knockout game and couldn’t help but awe at the single handed ability of lefty former San Sebastián Stag and current Gilas pool member Allyn Bulanadi. In a deciding game 3 that saw several ties and lead changes, Bulanadi willed his team through with 3 consecutive 3 point shots with a little over a minute left in the game to build a 9 point cushion which was enough to stave off a small rally by Bacoor. Nerves of steel.

I give credit to Gilas general manager Tab Baldwin for looking outside of the UAAP in finding and developing talents for Gilas. Bulanadi may not be rostered for this coming Asian window of the FIBA Qualifiers but his showing in the MPBL (and the NCAA) shows he is worthy of a spot in the pool and worthy to be among the top 5 picks in the recent PBA Draft.

The final four view:
Makati vs San Juan (North Division)
Basilan vs Davao Occidental (South Division)
These are a pair of exciting conference finals matches which I am looking forward to watch. The Metro Manila Teams dominated the Northern Conference while teams from Mindanao lorded over the South. The MPBL has found the ultimate solution in driving fans to the venue. Tap the regional pride and fans will troop to support you all the way.
Something I strongly believe the local pro league, the PBA, should try to learn from.

The PBA 2020 Opening
The Kraken is MVP. Winning the most valuable player plum for a 6th consecutive time, San Miguel slot man JuneMar Fajardo has yet again dominated the field in the last season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). It could possibly be a seventh this year if not for a fractured leg “the Kraken” has sustained last month that derailed his stint this year. Regardless of when JuneMar is able to come back, 6 MVP awards will be a very tough cookie to crack. He is one of a kind, a generational player. Kudos to the big man for the well deserved recognition.

Fajardo was joined by Jayson Castro (TnT Katropa), Christian Standhardinger (NorthPort), Sean Anthony (NorthPort) and CJ Perez (Columbian Dyip, also winning Rookie of the Year) in the mythical first team.

Despite having a dismal season last year, the Columbian Dyip can brag about the achievement of CJ Perez. Winning Rookie of the Year and being named to the mythical first team as a rookie, Perez followed the footsteps of renowned legends of the PBA in Arnie Tuadles (Toyota) Benjie Paras (Shell), and Danny Seigle (San Miguel). With that strong rookie show, expect CJ to up his game to a whole new level this season.

Sports Amidst COVID19
It seems the COVID19 virus is threatening to shut down the upcoming Tokyo Olympics this year. Considering that a cure has yet to be discovered or invented, the practical approach is to defer the event for the safety of the public. Concerts, festivals and other activities not just in the country but all over the world have been cancelled primarily due to the outbreak.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has also sent notice to teams to expect a dwindling audience due to this spread.

COVID19 has triggered a worldwide crisis that should not be taken lightly, not even by the business of sports. Perhaps changing the audiences’ behaviour from watching games live at the venues to watching on tv or livestream would be a good temporary switch until a control measure is in place. The best we could hope or pray for is, similar to its parent SARS, that this virus just dissipates during summer or a cure is found asap.

What we can do is to make sure to also limit our travel and try to avoid converging with a large group of people just to minimize the risk of sustaining it. It may not necessarily guarantee that one shall be infection free but it may reduce the chance of acquiring it. Wash hands thoroughly and observe proper cough or sneezing decorum, Palawan.

(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)