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PBA faces full schedule challenge

MANILA, Philippines — The PBA recognizes the challenge it faces as it stages a full-schedule 47 season, including the threat of “poaching” of players from foreign leagues.

After a one-conference season in 2020 and two conferences last year, Asia’s play-for-play premier league is ready to return to the three-conference format with a much better health situation now.

“The biggest priority is to get back to normal and the only way to get back to normal is to have three conferences,” PBA President Ricky Vargas of TNT said at yesterday’s press launch at Conrad Hotel.

The PBA gets the ball rolling on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum with the Season 46 Leo Awards at 2 p.m., followed immediately by the official opening of the 47th season. A double header featuring new team Converge vs. Rain or Shine at 4:30 p.m. and 2021 All-Philippine Champion TNT vs. runner-up Magnolia at 6:30 p.m. kicks off the new season.

“We have a full season. With the grace of God, we survived the pandemic, we survived one conference, we survived two conferences, and we will succeed with three conferences,” Vargas said.

The PBA executive admitted it wouldn’t be entirely hassle-free, especially with eligible players and rookies lured by what he described as ‘unprofessional agents’ to ply their trades in other leagues. like Japan.

“Poaching has been very serious. We’ve lost some really good players who didn’t make the draft or who would be in the draft and leave the PBA. All we ask is not to poach, to be very professional about the whole process,” he said.

TNT’s own player Ray Parks Jr. and NLEX’s Kiefer Ravena spent last season in the Japan B. League while potential rookie Justine Baltazar recently withdrew her application to sign up with a Japanese club.

Vargas said the league wants agents to register with the PBA and do things in a more “professional” way.

If all goes as planned, the All-Filipino season opener will continue through September 2 with Ynares Center in Antipolo and MOA Arena operating as venues outside of the Big Dome.

After the showpiece competition, the PBA offers the Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup, with imports of 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-6, respectively.