MANILA, Philippines -- Be it in Metro Manila or Ilocos Norte, the Meralco Bolts are ready to begin training for the upcoming PBA season by next week.
Team manager Paolo Trillo confirmed that the team were tested last May 7 and again on Wednesday, in accordance with the protocols put together by the league. No member of the team has returned a positive COVID-19 result.
The team has already received clearance from the provincial government of Ilocos Norte to hold a training camp there, Trillo also said.
"We actually planned to leave on the 15th, which is Saturday, for Ilocos," he explained. "But then, there's also a possibility that the quarantine status in Metro Manila might be upgraded already."
"So, we're also waiting for word on that. Because, if that should happen, there also may be a chance that we might just not proceed with Ilocos and practice here already, if that's what's going to happen," he added.
Metro Manila and four of its neighboring provinces -- Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan -- remain under modified enhanced community quarantine until May 14. PBA teams cannot train in areas that are under MECQ.
Ilocos Norte is under modified general community quarantine, the lowest of all quarantine levels in the country.
Trillo said that the team will wait to make a final decision when they get more information on the quarantine level in Metro Manila.
"Nothing is final," he said.
"[But] let's say for example we still don't get the quarantine status in Metro Manila improved, let's say we're still in MECQ, then automatically, we'll decide to leave," Trillo also said.
"We're prepared to leave on Saturday for Ilocos Norte."
If they push through with their camp in Ilocos Norte, the Bolts will be staying at the Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel while the Laoag Centennial Arena will serve as the practice venue.
The training camp will run for ten days.
Trillo acknowledged that there are certain drawbacks to training in Ilocos Norte. For instance, their practice venue only has two rims, as opposed to the Meralco Gym which has six. The weight room at the Meralco facility is also more accessible.
"Over there, we would have to really bring our own equipment, and we have to make do with what we have," he said.
What's important, however, is that they maximize the opportunity to train. The Bolts will likely be the first team to return to practice, after all training sessions were suspended in March following a spike in COVID-19 cases.
"Hopefully we can start on the 15th… I hope we get to really get it going. I'm not sure about the plans of the other teams, but as far as we're concerned, we wanted to maximize every day, so we wanted to start right on the 15th," said Trillo.
The Bolts are coming off a breakthrough campaign in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, where they made it to the semifinals and pushed eventual champion Barangay Ginebra to a do-or-die fifth game.
They have also been busy in the offseason, acquiring Mac Belo in a trade with Blackwater and selecting Alvin Pasaol in the PBA Rookie Draft.
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