MANILA, Philippines -- If the PBA is successful in holding its All-Filipino Conference in a bubble in Clark, Pampanga, it will go a long way towards restoring a sense of normalcy in the country, after the hardships brought about the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the sentiment of the league's hosts at Clark, led by Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president Vince Dizon and Clark Development Corp. (CDC) president Noel Manankil.
"It's important to emphasize the importance of this in the country's fight against COVID," Dizon said when Clark welcomed the PBA teams at the Quest Hotel earlier this week.
"This shows that we are ready to slowly but surely go back to the things that we used to do prior to COVID, as long as we do it safely and surely. We will slowly but surely try to get some semblance of normalcy amidst the challenges," he explained.
Clark won the rights to host the restart of the PBA season, with the Board of Governors accepting Dizon and Manankil's pitch over at least 20 other candidates.
One reason that the PBA chose Clark is that the area has a laboratory and its own hospital nearby, and they also agreed to shoulder the cost of the testing for the entire PBA party that will spend the next couple of months in Clark.
For Manankil, the expense as well as the risk that they are taking are worth it as he sees plenty of benefits to the PBA's presence in the area.
"For Clark, we all know the more affected sector is tourism," said Manankil. "This is the first step in trying to help the tourism in Clark towards a new normal for everybody."
"This will be a testament to the resiliency of Clark in handling the pandemic," he added.
If Clark and the PBA successfully pull off the Philippine Cup inside the bubble, it will not only show that the country can once again hold sporting events. It will also boost the confidence and morale of Filipinos, who have struggled for months because of the pandemic, according to Dizon.
"It's very important that we are able to give people hope, hope that this pandemic, while very very difficult and challenging, may katapusan din 'to," said Dizon, who is also the country's COVID-19 testing czar.
"Hopefully ngayon mapapakita natin na kaya natin mag-hold ng sporting events as long as it's safe and secure and healthy for the participants. Kahit papaano, simbolo 'to na gaganda din eventually ang ating buhay at babalik din tayo sa ating kinagawian," he added.
The PBA teams have been at Clark for almost a week now, and some of the teams have begun their scrimmages at the Angeles University Foundation Gym.
The season will officially be restarted on October 11, seven months after it was suspended due to the health crisis.
"We promise the PBA that we will do everything to support it and make sure that it will be a success," Dizon vowed.