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Find a vaccine and let’s play basketball — Fernandez

Ramon Fernandez
PSC officer-in-charge Ramon Fernandez and wife Karla undergo swab test at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

PBA legend Ramon Fernandez believes the time is not right to resume the PBA games.

Fernandez, nicknamed “El Presidente” during his playing days from 1975 to 1994, said the coronavirus pandemic makes it difficult to hold the games while keeping the players and even the fans safe.

Speaking during the first Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) “Usapang Sports on Air” via Zoom.

Fernandez said team sports is not allowed to continue unless a vaccine (against the coronavirus) is found.

“Mahirap. I do not know how they (PBA) can do it with the present health crisis,” said Fernandez, who was also appointed as officer-in-charge of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

“Maghanap muna siguro tayo ng bakuna para makapaglaro sila. Kung walang bakuna, I guess hindi pa talaga allowed,” explained Fernanded during the public service program sponsored by the PSC and PAGCOR.

“But right now, we are really dependent on the protocols of the IATF-EID (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) and the DOH (Department of Health). Kailangan sumunod tayo doon.” added Fernandez, a four-time PBA Most Valuable Player and 19-time PBA champion with Toyota, Tanduay, Purefoods and San Miguel Beer.

“Sa ngayon, I know no vaccine, no team sports.”

Asked about the plan of the NBA to resume their games in a single place in Orlando, Florida, Fernandez expressed doubt that it will be feasible in the PBA.

“I really don’t know how to do it. Mahirap talaga kung wala pang bakuna, Mas la-laki ang gastos ng PBA. If the whole members of the team, ipa-test nila at negative lahat. Then they  have to keep them in one safe place. Lahat ng teams ganun ang gagawin. But wala pa ding spectators. Puro TV lahat dahil we still need social distancing lalo na  sa loob ng coliseum.”

He also expressed doubt about the plan to allow only a few players  during team practices.

“Basketball is a team sport, so hindi pwede na iilan lang ang payagan mag-practice at hindi sama-sama ang buong team. How can you achieve team work pag ganun?”

He said two months are enough for the athletes to get back into shape.

On Kai Sotto, Thirdy Ravena and other Filipino players being invited to play overseas, Fernandez gave his two thumbs up.

“I’m sure nakikita naman talaga nila yun talents ng mga Pilipino. But I guess it’s only now that they are trying to hire Filipino players in their leagues. And that’s good,” said Fernandez.

“If you ask me, I will definitely get that opportunity. As I keep on saying, an athlete is only as good as his competition. If I want to improve my level of game, I will go up to the highest level of the competition.”

He said he is happy that Sotto is going places now.

“Ever since I retired, bihira na ako manood ng basketball. I have seen only glimpses of him (Sotto) playing. But sa nakita ko, he’s very mobile. And the fact that kinuha naman sya ng mga scouts to play abroad, I’m pretty sure yun abilidad nya, pwede naman.”

“Looking back on his colorful PBA days, Fernandez said he is happy about the comparison between him and June Mar “The Kraken”’ Fajardo when discussions turned to the league’s greatest player of all time.

“I leave it to all of you (basketball fans) to talk about it. But I’m happy,” said Fernandez.

The 66-year-old pride of Maasin, Leyte said Abet Guidaben, Philip Cezar and Yoyoy Villamin are his biggest rivals during his time in Asia’s first play for pay league.