MANILA, Philippines -- TNT governor Ricky Vargas cannot make a prediction as to how the KaTropa will perform in the PBA "bubble," as he admits that their team is still learning to play together.
"We're trying to get to know each other. It's practically a new team," Vargas told reporters in a recent press conference.
The KaTropa was the lone PBA team to conduct a training camp of sorts in a bubble, as they practiced at the Inspire Academy in Calamba, Laguna last month ahead of the restart of the season.
It proved to be an eventful camp, with veteran Kelly Williams suddenly announcing his retirement -- reportedly without consulting team management. Meanwhile, the team is also trying to integrate Simon Enciso, who was acquired in a trade with Alaska in January, while welcoming back Ray Parks Jr.
"We haven't played 5-on-5 so we don't know. We just see what they can do on an individual basis," Vargas said. "But they have been training very hard, and getting their stamina up because they know that the bubble will be a long series."
"It's a series where you're asked to play almost every day. So while skill is important, your physique and your stamina is also very important. So they're working on that," he added.
"Hopefully by the time the bubble starts, we have the stamina to last the bubble."
What gives Vargas hope is that Parks and Enciso are both "looking good," having stayed in shape throughout the quarantine period.
Nonetheless, he expects that there will be a period of adjustment for the KaTropa when they begin playing in the bubble. The PBA hopes to start the season by October 11.
"For our team, we're still trying to get to know each other kasi marami ding bago sa team namin. They're finding their way around the relationships. So we'll just see what we can do," said Vargas.
The KaTropa made it to the quarterfinals of the 2019 PBA All-Filipino Cup as the fourth seed, but lost to eventual champion San Miguel Beer in three games.