May 25, 2024

The Board of Directors of the Philippine Basketball Association, through its Commissioner Willie Macial, announced last Sept. 22 that if it all goes well with Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), professional basketball games will be back starting Oct. 9.
The plan is to have a “bubble” venue similar to what the National Basketball Association is doing at the Disney World, Florida, to salvage the season conference.
Under the plan, the players composing the 12 competing teams will be quartered at the Bases Conversion Development Authority at Clark Air Base in Pampanga for the duration of the tournament. No member of any of the participating teams will be allowed to leave and they will be constantly monitored for possible infection before, during, and after games. It will be a sacrifice on their part but, I tell you, it will be worth it. The Filipinos will eternally be grateful to them and will not forget their sacrifice.
For six months, we have been deprived of any sports activity. No basketball, no soccer, no weightlifting, no swimming, no nothing. Arenas and stadiums were empty with sport loving fan like me and million others, staring in empty wondering when we can watch our favorite idols compete against each other. Night in and night out, we switched on the television hoping that by some miracle, teams and players will appear donning their jerseys and scrimmages against each other.
Awfully, there was none until the NBA took the lead. But then, the NBA games are not enough to satiate our thirst for sports. There is nothing like a tournament with a local flavor into it to satisfy our yearning to cheer and to jeer, much like hamburgers and fries are not meals unless it is with rice and adobo. Only Philippine basketball with the likes of June Mar Fajardo, Mark Caguioa, Asi Taulava, and a slew of colorful characters can fulfill our destiny for an honest-to-goodness sports competition.
The PBA is trailblazing. It is at the cusp of a new beginning. Against all odds, it seeks to bring to all basketball crazy fans, the games that have been stalled for so long. Considering that the games will be played in a “bubble” with live audience disallowed, it will surely not be the same as witnessing it in open and public venues. The only way to watch the games is on television. No complaints, though. Games with no cheering audience may remove some of the excitement but, what the heck, it is better than no games at all.
In a way, Sec. Vince Dizon, chief executive officer of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, was correct when he echoed why it is necessary to resume the PBA. He said: “Our thrust is to gradually open up the economy. What better symbol of trying to get back to new normal than restarting the most important pastime in the Philippines which is basketball.” He, however, underestimated the significance of basketball in this country.
In the Philippines, basketball is more than a pastime. It is a religion with the teams and the players acting as its priests and preachers. We are so attached to the game that we discern and scrutinize every facet of their players’ lives and their families’ as if they are members of our families as well. They are our role models and they influence the way we rear our children and how we mold their lives.
We Filipinos breathe basketball, eat basketball, think basketball and dream basketball all the time. We are so passionate about it that it is part of our daily routine. Thus, when the IATF announced last March that it is suspending basketball tournaments, it was like losing our religion.
To say that we miss the games is an understatement. Finally, our prayers have been answered. The PBA is resuming the greatest show on Earth. We await the resumption of the games with bated breath and great anticipation. So, for all basketball fanatics, mark your calendars.