Last Friday, July 16, saw the beginning of the 2021 season of the Philippine Basketball Association with plenty of cautious optimism. After all, they received the go-ahead from the COVID-19 IATF, and it came already into the latter half of the year. It was understandable that the season opening was brief, to allow no less than three games to be played to no spectators at the Pasig Ynares Sports Arena. That first day was promising, but the current reality will not be ignored. For this Wednesday the PBA saw no choice but to cancel the scheduled games due to concerning COVID test results from four players of one scheduled team.

The Manila Bulletin reports that the PBA has scrubbed the two games supposed to be played this July 21, after four unspecified players of TNT Tropang Giga returned recent test results “either positive or needing confirmation for COVID-19,” requiring them to enter the league’s Health and Safety Protocol isolation. The PBA announced the development this past Tuesday, July 20, adding that all other TNT members were separately isolated for retesting. Furthermore, another team scheduled to play Wednesday, Terrafirma Dyip, also underwent isolation and confirmatory testing because they had faced Tropang Giga on Saturday, July 17.

As a result, the original Wednesday scheduled games of Terrafirma vs. Alaska Aces, and TNT vs. Magnolia Hotshots, are no longer to be contested. Instead, the new Game 1 will pit Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters against the Northport Batang Pier, while Alaska and Magnolia, the squads that lost their opponents due to the aforementioned COVID test results, will face each other in Game 2. The Aces were one of the season’s inaugural teams, winning Game 1 of July 16 against Blackwater Bossing, 103-77. The Hotshots also beat Phoenix Super LPG last Saturday, scoring 80-73.

The PBA explained that the isolation and confirmatory testing of the four suspect TNT players, along with the re-testing of their teammates as well as their Saturday opponents from Terrafirma, were all in accordance with Health and Safety Protocols the league finalized with the IATF. The intensified protocols are in light of outbreaks of the Delta COVID-19 variant, particularly in neighboring countries of the Philippines.

Image courtesy of GMA News