Hoops return: What will basketball look like now

Delfin Dioquino

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Hoops return: What will basketball look like now
Players need to improvise their celebration jigs to abide by the new FIBA guidelines

MANILA, Philippines – Basketball leagues all over the world are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with the possibility of their seasons pushing through increases as other sports gradually return, but with some restrictions. 

The NBA has confirmed it will likely restart its season at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida – months after it was shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Locally, the PBA still awaits government decision when it could restart its season since basketball games and scrimmages are not allowed under the modified general community quarantine. 

To provide guidance to its member local federations, FIBA – the world governing body for the sport – has released official guidelines for the return of basketball. 

Buildup before restart

As leagues eye a season resumption, FIBA advised teams to start with individual training. 

The NBA began allowing teams to stage solo workouts early in May, although several clubs did not take advantage of the opportunity.

Just recently, New York – the most deadly state in the USA in terms of coronavirus casualties – has permitted professional sports teams, among them the New York Knicks, to return to their training facilities. 

From individual training, FIBA said teams can proceed with workouts of a small group of players before they commence with full team practices. 

However, it is encouraged that only essential team personnel should be allowed inside the facilities during practices. 

That means fans who routinely visit their favorite teams and players in practices will need to abandon their habits. 

At a safe distance

Players will have to improvise their celebration jigs in accordance to the guidelines set by FIBA. 

Hugs, high fives, and handshakes between teammates, which usually come after a spectacular play like an emphatic dunk or a game-winning shot, are prohibited to prevent further spread of the virus. 

Moreover, players are encouraged to observe proper physical distance while sitting on the bench and not to share towels and drinking bottles.

Team huddles, where players tightly surround their coach who draws a play and gives instructions, will likely not be the same due to physical distancing rules.

While physicality is a part of the sport – hard screens and tough defense – players are asked to avoid unnecessary physical contact with their opponents. 

Fans are also covered by the guidelines. 

Even if spectators will eventually be allowed to watch the games on-site, players are barred from interacting with them, dashing fans’ hopes of photo opportunities and autograph signings. 

For example, PBA fans in the past wait outside team locker rooms to catch a glimpse of their favorite players and take selfies with them, but that tradition will be shelved for the meantime.

Keeping it clean

FIBA highlighted the need to disinfect in combatting the spread of the virus.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are expected to be a staple during games as players are encouraged to disinfect regularly, particularly during timeouts and substitution breaks.

Balls and training equipment like weights, where possibly small droplets that come from the nose and mouth of a coronavirus victim could land and be passed on, should also be disinfected.

Meanwhile, taking showers under the FIBA guidelines have been modified.

Before, players shower in their locker rooms immediately after practices and games, but it is preferred by FIBA that they take a bath at their own homes instead of team facilities and game venues. 

If hand sanitizers are not available, washing hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds will also help kill the virus. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.