In just nine straight days starting tomorrow, the PBA Philippine Cup elimination round will be over.
It’s because the league has opted to do away with the usual double-header in its effort to hasten the kickoff conference being held in bubble in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Under the revised schedule released to the media yesterday, there will be four games each in at least five of the nine playing days in the elimination. There are at least two days devoted for three-game bill, with the usual double-header to happen only twice inside the last nine days of eliminations.
It will mark the first time that games will be held in the morning in the long, storied league that is forced by circumstances.
The first game during four-game day is 10 a.m. and playing in such an early hour of the day is very unusual for most of the teams.
“It’s very unusual for us,” uttered San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria when asked by People’s Journal yesterday what his reaction to playing in the morning.
“We don’t know what its effect and impact on us dahil never pang nangyari ‘yon sa amin sa PBA na maglalaro kami ng maaga,” added the multi-titled bench tactician. “Kahit sa mga out-of-town di pa nangyari, pero dapat gawin to dahil sa panahon na delikado.”
Incidentally, the Beermen plunge right way in the first game at 10 a.m. when the league resumes the elimination round tomorrow with a heavy four-game bill at the AUF Sports Arena & Cultural Center.
The Beermen go up against Blackwater, looking to ride on whatever momentum is left in its three-game winning run capped by an 89-82 win over Meralco last October 28.
The six-time defending champions were supposed to play Barangay Ginebra last Friday, but the game as well as the NorthPort-Magnolia tussle set for that day didn’t push through as the PBA announced it was suspending the games on an order by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
The Elite on the other hand are hoping to rebound from back-to-back setbacks to rev up their standing now that they are dangerously occupying number 8 spot with only two wins to show in six outings.
Phoenix plays winless Terrafirma in the second game at 1 p.m., and Talk N Text takes on NorthPort in the third game at 4 p.m., before Barangay Ginebra and Alaska meet in the nightcap at 6:45 p.m.
The Tropang Giga remain at the top with their 5-1 slate, half a game ahead of second-running Rain or Shine which sports a 4-1 record boosted by an 85-82 overtime win over the Gin Kings last Oct 27.
The other days with four-game sked are Nov. 4, 6, 8, and 11, with Nov. 5 and 9 both with three-game sked. Nov 7 and 10 are both double-headers.
Meanwhile, all the players of the 12 participating teams have already tested negative in the latest round (3rd) of RT-PCR tests.
The PBA is the first league in the country to be allowed to hold tournament in a bubble. However, the bubble got a huge threat when a referee was reported to have been positive of coronavirus.
A few days thereafter, the league announced a Blackwater player as another potential case of Covid-19. That resulted into postponement of at least three games, with the IATF subsequently ordering the league to suspend the conduct of the games.
As it turns out, the IATF was only asking the league to adopt additional health protocols to make the bubble smoother. After all, the referee and the unnamed Blackwater cager both tested negative.