It is tough times globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone has to be cautious and calculated in every move so as not to risk one’s health and that of others. I am wondering when our country will start seeing some semblance of strategic movement to the new normal. Yes, we understand that we need to apply social distancing, wear masks, even face shields, and to wash hands frequently but I personally feel that the mandate about regional quarantine levels being released in 2-week tranches is simply too short-sighted and show no promise of a strategic long term plan.
As a Business Process Outsourcing leader, I am sure most businesses are reeling from the difficulty of not being able to plan long term what with the quarantine levels moving up and down (or stagnant) every two weeks and the restrictions applied is almost always at the expense of the consumer or the employer or business. If things are tough in the corporate world, I am certain things are also tough in the world of Philippine sports.
So far, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has been granted a return to practice order by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) but limited to conditioning (no scrimmages yet). Even with this order given, only the Blackwater team started taking the court but was slapped a fine of 100,000 pesos since the PBA has not released their own final guidelines that support the IATF rule to roll out to their member teams. The PBA being slow to react may have its reasons. IATF guidelines could be very restrictive or may be interpreted in various ways and that is what I feel is the reason why the PBA Commissioner’s Office is taking a while to give the teams the green light to practice.
What if after 2 weeks the National Capital Region gets back to Enhanced Community Quarantine? Will practices discontinue? This uncertainty is what’s making businesses and the sporting world think twice about what to do. The national government should find ways to help businesses and sports to get back on its feet and not just focus on drafting rules and guidelines that are too strict and whose costs are most often shouldered by the common Juan or the business establishments.
We need a more strategic approach to sports and economics in general. A stimulus package that will help businesses get up to their feet. Perhaps even the transportation subsidy. For the PBA, perhaps a package that will help pay the cost of gym rentals or even the actual game venue just to help manage some of the operational expenses. Allocate a specific portion of the emergency budget to sports. People crave for a more tangible game plan that can make them embrace the new normal.
Like the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Euroleague Football, restarting their seasons is a political sign of attempting to get back to normal. The move is a boost of hope and can revive people’s outlook this year. I hope the IATF and the PBA start moving toward the direction of getting teams to start sweating out, getting players in shape. The country needs a breather. We can’t wait to see the rejigged TnT KaTropa with Poy Erram, Troy Rosario, and Bobby Ray Parks manning the frontcourt.
With perennial most valuable player Junemar Fajardo our with an injury, it is open season for teams to win perhaps the only pennant available for this season, the All Filipino Cup. Sans the fans in the stands, it will still be an exciting battlefield with Magnolia keeping things intact, Ginebra adjusting to life without Greg Slaughter, the Beermen’s Mo Tautuaa being their full-time center without the aforementioned Fajardo, and dark horses Alaska, Meralco and NLEX.
I see the underdogs like Blackwater, NLEX, and NorthPort potentially surprising us this season. We can’t wait to get things going and if the PBA is able to restart the season, they can act as the prototype for other leagues, professional or amateur, to start following suit. It takes only one to set a precedence and here’s hoping the PBA leads the way.
Tune-up Matches in Disney
And the NBA show is just about to be underway … again. The “pre-restart” matches, or tune-up games, for the teams in the Disney Orlando bubble will kick off on Wednesday (Thursday morning Manila). This may seem to be a small step in terms of the NBA’s global magnitude but a big step for fans worldwide. We can’t wait to see the unfinished season unfold.
I am sure King Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers wouldn’t want to waste LBJs success with the Lakers this year and cap it off with a ring in the first year of his pairing with Anthony Davis. They are one the favorites to reach the NBA Finals this season and for good reason. Aside from LBJ and AD, they have signed up veterans Dion Waiters and JR Smith, a couple of 3 point threats to complement Bron’s drive and kick play. They already have Kyle Kuzma, and Kentavious Caldwell Pope shooting from downtown but in today’s NBA, shooters are premium quality especially in the playoffs so stack them up if you wish. Alex Caruso is expected to fill in the minutes lost with the injured Rajon Rondo. Dwight Howard and Javale McGee will alternate in the middle.
If the Lakers bring home the bacon, expect AD to solidify his free-agent signing with the Lakers in the offseason. That’s at least two more years together with the King that can possibly end as another set of 3 rings for the purple and gold. Achieving this could also solidify Bron’s claim as the Greatest of All Time. I don’t expect Lebron to retire if he completes his contract with the Lakers. At 34 years old, he looks like he can play well into this ’40s as Vince Carter did. He may sign up a fresh 2-year deal if his partnership with AD clicks and who knows … perhaps The Great Freak may join the fray as well.
Tune in for the NBA relaunch 2020 at the Disney Bubble when seeding games start on July 31.
(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)