Shutdown Averted: 2021 PBA Governors’ Cup To Resume In Early February

Last week, we told you about the latest news regarding the restart of the 2021 PBA Governors’ Cup.

Due to coronavirus concerns amid the outbreak of the so-called Omicron variant, the conference was suspended on December 26 after just two and a half weeks of play.

Most teams managed to play a full five games in that time, although the Magnolia Hotshots and Meralco Bolts – both of which are at the top of the standings in terms of winning percentage – have only played three and two games respectively.

Whenever the Governors’ Cup restarts, they’ll have some serious catching up to do.

But the key point is that it does look like the conference will actually restart.

Until now, the fate of the campaign was up in the air, with PBA commissioner Willie Marcial taking a wait-and-see approach.

In a meeting last Tuesday (January 18), Marcial explained to a conference of sportswriters that the PBA was considering all options, and that the ultimate decision would be based largely on national progress containing the virus:

“Based from what I hear and read, [experts] say that the [number of cases] will plateau and will drop anytime. But others say that it will rise further in February. What we can do is just pray and take care of ourselves.”

There were several possible outcomes: The Governors’ Cup could resume action as normal, the league could move to an all-Filipino format a la the 2021 Philippine Cup, the remaining games could be played in a bubble, or the conference could be canceled altogether.

Fortunately, it looks like the conference will go ahead as normal (import players and all), with a start time slated for “the first week of February.”

However, it should be noted that official PBA games may not commence quite that soon, so it could still be 2-3 weeks before you see any PBA basketball odds posted to the various legal Philippine offshore sportsbooks you’re used to.

Per Marcial, the PBA Board of Governors voted to give teams 10 days of scrimmages before play resumes in earnest, with the league currently waiting on governmental approval to commence the practice matches.

Such approval could come any day now, as the latest news on the medical front seems to indicate that the Omicron surge is finally waning.

According to the The Straits Times, official government data in the islands indicates that just 17,000 new coronavirus cases were reported on Tuesday. This represents a significant drop from the 40,000 daily cases being reported just 10 days ago.

In Metro Manila (population 13 million), new daily COVID cases have fallen to around 3000, down from a high of 18,000 just 15 days ago. Manila then accounted for 60 percent of the national coronavirus caseload in the Philippines, but it’s now responsible for only about 15 percent.

Per Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, the Metro Manila alert level – which has led to the dramatic reduction in operations for brick-and-mortar casinos in the area (though online Philippine casino gambling has not been affected) – should be “de-escalated” in February:

“It appears that COVID-19 cases have peaked already. Cases continue to decline in [Metro Manila] and the percentage of infections that the region contributes to the total caseload is shrinking.”

As hoped, getting the virus under control should lead to reductions of restrictions on a number of industries and markets, including restaurants, parks, tourist venues, salons, gyms, schools, fairs, churches, and – most crucially for the sports bettor – sports.

So, it looks like the PBA Governors’ Cup will be resumed after all.

Here’s hoping the rest of our lives follow suit in short order…