By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
BELIEVING that the league has done a good job covering all the bases, Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) officials said they are ready to resume their currently suspended season when given the go-ahead.
Targeted for Oct. 9, the PBA season restart took further form last Thursday when the league announced that it would be holding a “bubble” at Clark City in Angeles, Pampanga, for the resumption of action.
The decision was arrived after a meeting of the PBA’s Board of Governors aimed at finalizing the details of the restart of the season, which has been shut since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the bubble setup, which is similar to that employed in the National Basketball Association, players, coaches, and staff of the teams and the league will be holed up in one location for the duration of the tournament and will be shuttled to and from the hotel and the playing venue.
Games will be played at the Angeles University Foundation while the teams will be staying in the nearby Quest Hotel.
It will be a compressed tournament for the PBA, lasting only two months and will feature two games daily. And the league expects to crown a champion by the second week of December.
“We’re ready and we’re excited. The Commissioner’s Office has done a good job with the plans, and they’re ready to execute as soon as we’re given the go-signal,” said PBA board chairman Ricky Vargas at the online press conference following the board meeting.
The PBA is reportedly spending around P65 million for the restart and the league has expressed its commitment to see its success.
“We will push through. It’s a go once we are allowed to,” said PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial.
The league is now awaiting approval to proceed from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
It already wrote to the IATF and Mr. Marcial said they are expecting to get a response later this week.
Once they get the approval, the league will have the teams start doing scrimmages in preparation for the Oct. 9 restart.
Right now, teams are allowed to do modified workouts, with only four players on the court each time as part of measures to guide against the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr. Marcial said they will be strict in implementing measures once at the bubble.
For one, players caught violating league restrictions will be fined heavily and suspended.
“If they go out of the bubble, they will not have a salary for one month, fined P100,000, and suspended for five games in the next season,” said the PBA commissioner.
Players, however, have the option to opt out from participating in the bubble if they choose to do so, but it must be done prior to entry.
To ensure that players are taken care of inside the bubble, Mr. Marcial said they will make sure that proper amenities are available.
He said Quest Hotel is capable of catering to every need of 350 people participating, including 25 from each of the 12 teams. Dedicated buses for the teams will also be on hand.
Recreational amenities for video games, billiards, and table tennis, among others, are set to be provided.
Participants, too, can make use of golf and watersports facilities in Clark.
Coronavirus testing, through antigen tests, will be strictly enforced.
Meanwhile, all games in the bubble will be shown live on One Sports and PBA Rush with livestream on ESPN5.com. Games on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday will be simulcast on TV5.
First game will start at 4 p.m., while the second is at 8:00 p.m.
Tournament format will see a single round-robin elimination, with the top four seeds having twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. The semifinals will be a best-of-five affair, and the finals best-of-seven.