PBA trophies for the season.

FILE–PBA trophies for the season. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Wanting to rebound from the financial losses forced by the pandemic and because the health situation has improved by leaps and bounds, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) brings back its old three-conference calendar when it opens its 47th Season next month.

“We’re going back to three conferences,” said Ricky Vargas, who earned a fresh term as board chair in last week’s planning session in Boracay. “In terms of expenses, to deliver three conferences, we are looking at close to P300 million. But we’re also looking at revenue that’s about P500 million. And if everything pushes through, the profit is about P180 to P200 million.

“That really takes us back to where we were, and hopefully regain what we lost in Season 45 [when the pandemic started],” he went on.

The league continued to pay its staff full salaries when the pandemic hit and sports in the country was grounded. The teams also did the same to their players, coaches and utility personnel even if they played just one conference in 2020 and two from late last year to the Governors’ Cup that concluded less than a month ago.

Holding that Philippine Cup in 2020 inside a bubble in Pampanga province had the league shelling out more than P65 million and it got nothing in return in terms of live attendance with fans barred from the venue.

Ending February 2023

Vargas said he hopes to build on the strides made last season when it played two tournaments.

“This time, we were able to do two conferences. We netted about P48 million, which is not so bad. It was a positive process and very positive news for us. Our cash flow also improved so that’s good, too,” he said.

The league is hoping to take the lid off its new cycle on June 5, starting with the prestigious Leo Awards. The centerpiece Philippine Cup will run until Sept. 2 barring any hitches, according to PBA commissioner Willie Marcial.

A month-long break will happen after that to allow the national cage program to tap into the PBA’s pool of aces for the Asian Games in China.

The Commissioner’s Cup, which hasn’t been played in two years, will be held starting Oct. 2 while the season-ending Governors’ Cup in February 2023, with the league looking to fulfill its commitments with the East Asia Super League (EASL) sometime between those two tournaments.

“The calendar will be very tight because the board committed its continued support to the SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) by providing them with the players coming from the PBA,” said vice chair Bobby Rosales, who like Vargas was reelected to a fresh term.

“The first conference will see the SEA (Southeast Asian) Games and the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) qualifiers. The second will see the EASL and the Asian Games. It’s a tight calendar, but the PBA is really finding a way to squeeze in everything,” he added.

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