MILAN – Owing to its commitment to the Gilas program, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is adopting the same format it had last year when it ushers its 45th season starting on March 1.

120519 PBA SMBvsMAGNOLIA F6 04 riodeluvio copy 640x356 - PBA: Same format for 2020 as SMB, Magnolia clash in opener of 45th season

San Miguel Beer and Magnolia players, from left, Chris Ross, Jio Jalalon, Paul Lee, Rafi Reavis, June Mar Fajardo and Alex Cabagnot move into position for the rebound in Game 6 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals last Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (MB Photo / Rio Leonelle Deluvio, File)

The league’s 2020 playing calendar kicks off with the season-opening Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum where five-time defending champion San Miguel Beer kicks off its title retention bid against Magnolia in the lone game on opening night.

The All-Filipino Cup will last until June to be promptly followed by the Commissioner’s Cup that features imports with a height limit of 6-foot-10.

The season-ending Governors’ Cup then ushers the final conference of the year showcasing imports 6-foot-5 and below and which is expected to again overlap until January of 2021.

PBA Board chairman Ricky Vargas said embracing the same set-up from last season is imperative especially with the league schedule again adjusting to the Gilas Pilipinas campaign in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers that begins this February.

“We’re trying to move from a calendar year to a flexible year,” said Vargas during the Board’s annual planning session that concluded on Friday.

“We’re going to extend to January 2021 because this (calendar) will accommodate the window of qualifiers for the FIBA Asia Cup. So we organized it on that basis.”

Format for the Philippine Cup (March 1-June 17) will have the top eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals, with the top two teams at the end of the eliminations enjoying a twice-to-beat advantage against the eight and seventh seeded teams.

The no. 3 team tangles with no. 6 and no. 4 battles no. 5 in a best-of-three series.

The four teams which survive clash in the best-of-seven semifinals before the two remaining ballclubs figure each other out in the best-of-seven finals.

The same set-up will be used in the mid-season Commissioner’s Cup (June 24-October 4), although the semifinals is going to be a best-of-five, and the finals a best-of-seven.

The Governors’ Cup (October 11-January 29) meanwhile, will have eight teams again earning a berth in the quarterfinals, where the top four squads own a twice-to-beat advantage against the four other teams in the lower bracket.

The four teams that remain face each other in the best-of-five semis, before the season concludes with a best-of-seven finals.

The league takes a break from July 10-12 to hold the annual All-Star game in Passi, Iloilo.

The PBA is also looking to play more provincial games this season as well as another out-of-the country outing.

Five games in the provinces have already been set for the Philippine Cup that include Bataan, Cagayan De Oro, Panabo, Dipolog, and Iloilo.

In light of the success of the doubleheader it played in Dubai last year, the league is again eyeing to hold matches outside of the country, with Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and the USA as among the likely host.

For the third straight season, the PBA won’t be holding games on Christmas Day.

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