Players in Winnipeg's Philippine Basketball Association tip off after pandemic hiatus

·1 min read
This year's league has 85 teams competing, commissioner Manny Aranez says. (iStock - image credit)
This year's league has 85 teams competing, commissioner Manny Aranez says. (iStock - image credit)

For the first time in almost two years, players in Winnipeg's Philippine Basketball Association are hitting the court.

The league finally tipped off its 2021 season on Sunday after going on hiatus because of pandemic restrictions — and commissioner Manny Aranez is overjoyed.

"I was up since four o'clock this morning and so overexcited about this," Aranez told CBC's Weekend Morning Show host Marjorie Dowhos.

"People [were] calling me last night asking me questions, and they could not wait to get into the gym and play basketball today."

This year's season looks a little different than previous ones, with more time required in between games so there's time to sanitize everything before the next teams come in to play, said Aranez, who started the association.

That also means the league had to cut down the number of teams it accepted.

The usual total of about 114 is now down to 85 — and that meant leaving out some people who wanted to play.

Travis Golby/CBC
Travis Golby/CBC

"It breaks my heart," Aranez said.

"But the good thing is, maybe in the near future, maybe next year ... it'll open up, loosen up and we can entertain more teams."

Players over 18 now have to provide proof of vaccination when they come in.

While spectators are allowed, masks are required — and players are asked to only bring one spectator per person, he said.

All that means things still look a little different than they did before the pandemic. But he said it's worth it to see people back on the court.

"It was just sad [when we couldn't play]," Aranez said.

"You're used to hearing all this whistle-blowing and people cheering."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting