IATF OKs PBA’s return to Metro Manila venue, live fans


THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will open its reinforced second conference either on November 26 or 28 and potentially with fans in the stands in a Metro Manila venue.

Businessmirror learned that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases that the league could already operate within the National Capital Region after health protocols were lowered to Alert Level 2 in the area the other day.

The PBA has earlier stated its desire to bring the fans back and resume playing in Metro Manila most probably at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City. The PBA has been playing in a bubble venue since last year.

Under IATF guidelines for the PBA, the venue could accept fully vaccinated fans at 50 percent capacity. Also, everyone in the PBA family must be fully vaccinated.

The local government unit, the IATF guideline furthered, must accept the league in its jurisdiction.

The PBA, according to Commissioner Willie Marcial, will open its 3×3 tournament ahead of the second conference on November 20 at the Ynares Sports Arena.

Vic “Muscle Man” Manuel, meanwhile, will be bringing his strong man act back to NorthPort in the second conference.

The PBA  on Friday approved Manuel’s return to the Batang Pier with Michael Calisaan after their brief stint with Phoenix Super LPG in exchange for Sean Anthony, rookie Sean Manganti and their 2021 second round pick in the draft which the team acquired from TNT Tropang Giga.

“It’s going to be fun,” the 34-year-old Manuel told BusinessMirror a few minutes after the trade was approved. “I’m very happy because I will still play in the PBA and at the same time, I’m going back to the team where I started my career in the PBA.”

Manuel was drafted ninth overall by NorthPort in 2012. He was signed by Meralco in 2013 before being traded to Air21. In 2014, he was shipped to Alaska in a trade involving Aldrech Ramos.

He reached his full potential with the Aces under former Coach Alex Compton in six years with the team. He was sent by Alaska to Phoenix Super LPG for Brian Heruela and three draft picks last February.

Manuel averaged 12.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists with the Fuel Masters, but didn’t play in the last crucial knockout game against Barangay Ginebra for the last quarterfinals slot because of a groin injury. Phoenix lost that game, 85-95, last September.

Manuel said he is excited to play alongside 7-foot Greg Slaughter, Robert Bolick and high-flying rookie Jamie Malonzo.

“I played alongside Greg [Slaughter] during the 2019 SEA [Southeast Asian] Games. They also have Malonzo and Bolick, both are good players,” said Manuel, who is still recovering from his groin injury. “I need to rest, but I am fine.”

Phoenix management welcomed Anthony and Manganti.

“We welcome Sean Anthony and Sean Manganti. We believe that their talent and work ethic will prove vital for our team’s success and we are very much excited to see them on the floor,” Phoenix said in a statement sent by team manager Paolo Bugia said.

Anthony, 35, will be playing for his eighth team in 11 years in the league. Anthony played only seven games for Batang Pier in the Philippine Cup because of various injuries and averaged 9.86 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

The former Adamson University Falcon Manganti averaged only 4.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in the 2020 bubble season.

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