MANILA, Philippines -- After receiving approval to turn professional, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 is now making steps to start their new season in September.
The Games and Amusements Board (GAB) on Wednesday confirmed that Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 is the country's newest professional league, and that its teams are now allowed to start training.
As a professional league, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 is covered by the recent joint administrative order signed by GAB, the Department of Health, and the Philippine Sports Commission which guides the conduct of physical activities and sports in the time of COVID-19.
Should quarantine protocols ease further, sports leagues -- including Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 -- are planning for the resumption of tournaments.
"Tentatively, the scheduled opening, first conference, will be around (the) third week of September. That's the third weekend of September, and then it will go until February next year to be able to complete the season," league commissioner Eric Altamirano said Wednesday.
"Magkakaroon tayo ng tatlong conferences for this year," he added.
Twelve teams will compete in the first conference, with Altamirano promising some fresh faces.
In an effort to keep their players safe, the 3x3 games will be conducted in a "bubble," similar to what the National Women's Soccer League has done in the United States and what the NBA and WNBA are currently doing.
Altamirano explained that the league consulted the DOH and medical experts in formulating the protocols for their "bubble."
"We're very confident that the protocol that we are going to implement sa 3x3 league will be very, very airtight," he said. "We are not gonna take anything for granted, in terms of the safety of the players and all the officials that will be part of the league."
Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3's bubble will be at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, a complex owned by the SM Group that has state-of-the-art sports facilities as well as a "dormitel" for athletes.
"We were able to go there and inspect the campus, and it's a world-class campus, kumpleto na. May hotel sa loob. It's a really nice facility, and one thing we request from them is once we get into the bubble, kami lang 'yung tao sa loob ng campus," Altamirano said.
Teams and officials will undergo a series of swab tests a week before they enter the bubble, as well as a rapid test on the day of entry. Once inside the facility, teams are no longer allowed to leave.
The first leg of the competition will be held on Friday, and another round of tests will be held on Saturday when the league goes on a break. The second leg will be held on Sunday, after which teams and officials will leave the bubble.
While Altamirano acknowledged the risks of holding competitions during the health crisis, he assured that the league is keeping itself ready for any eventuality.
"We have an emergency contingency plan for those who will test positive. We have plans of getting a doctor that is recommended by the University of the Philippines. We will be using him as our lead doctor to be able to supervise and oversee all the protocols we need to implement sa liga," said Altamirano.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).