The Philippine Basketball Association will restart its currently suspended season next month in a “bubble” setup in Clark City in Angeles, Pampanga.
The decision was arrived at on Thursday after the league’s Board of Governors moved to finalize the details of the resumption of the PBA season, targeted to begin on Oct. 9. Under the bubble, 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 fro 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.
The hotel, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said, can accommodate 350 people participating in the bubble, who include a small group of members of the media covering the games.
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 press conference.
The league said Bases Conversion Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Vince Dizon and Clark Development Corp. President Noel Manakil played key roles in the selection of the venue for the bubble.
But before the league could resume it still needs the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID). The PBA has already written to the IATF and is just awaiting the latter’s response. If allowed, the league plans to have teams start doing scrimmages starting Sept. 26 in preparation for the Oct. 9 reopening.
Mr. Marcial said they will be strict in implementing measures to ensure that their resumption will be a success.
For one, players caught violating bubble 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. The league suspended its 45 th season in March when the coronavirus pandemic started to take root in the country. – Michael Angelo S. Murillo