MANILA - Having learned from their experience in the PBA bubble last year, organizers in Clark are ready to provide tighter security for the delegates in the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers.
Clark on Sunday started welcoming teams to the Quest Hotel, where all delegates will stay with each having their own individual rooms. South Korea and the Philippines were among those who arrived on Sunday afternoon.
Also set to play in Clark are: China, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, and Indonesia. Games will be played at the Angeles University Foundation Gym -- the same venue of the PBA Philippine Cup games last year.
"A lot of the learnings were done, especially you know, if you remember, in Angeles University Foundation, there were some instances," said Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President Vince Dizon, also the deputy chief implementer of the National Action Plan Against COVID-19.
"Siyempre, na-excite 'yung mga kababayan natin, and medyo magkumpul-kumpulan at sinasalubong, at kinakawayan 'yung ating mga idols," he recalled.
There were instances during the PBA Philippine Cup last year where fans waited for players to exit the AUF Gym. At least one player -- Joe Devance of Barangay Ginebra -- was reminded by the PBA Office to follow the health and safety protocols after briefly taking off his mask to talk to fans, albeit while socially distanced.
Dizon and BCDA Senior Vice President Arrey Perez assured that this time around, they are ready especially with foreign players set to take part.
"There's more strict and more coordination with the local police and the local government units, in order to ensure that there will be no violation of the minimum health standards even if our kababayans would want to get a glimpse of our players and also the foreign players who are participating," said Dizon.
"It's not just with the local government units of Angeles. That also includes the PNP Regional Office, the other mayors, the governor of Pampanga. We met prior to this event, and they have given us their full support in this event," Perez said.
"The most critical thing in this is they are providing tighter security as we have learned in the past PBA bubble, that we have successfully hosted last year. So this time, all hands are on deck, and we are confident that we will make this event very successful," he added.
Meanwhile, the organizers also assured that the foreign players strictly followed FIBA protocol before their arrival in the Philippines.
According to Butch Antonio, deputy executive director of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the teams were tested three times before departure for the Philippines, and again upon arrival.
They will be tested once more on the 17th to ensure that the FIBA Asia Cup bubble remains intact.
Games begin at the AUF Gym on June 16, with Gilas Pilipinas to play three games: against South Korea on June 16 and 20, and against Indonesia on June 18.