PBA: Amid positive COVID-19 test, Blackwater 'staying calm'

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 25 2020 02:37 PM | Updated as of Oct 25 2020 04:48 PM

Blackwater coach Nash Racela. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA (UPDATED) - Even before the PBA decided to postpone their Philippine Cup game against Rain or Shine on Sunday afternoon, the Blackwater Elite were already contemplating not playing.

This, after a player from their team returned a positive COVID-19 test and was transferred to the Athletes' Village in New Clark City. He will be undergoing both an antigen and an RT-PCR test today, to confirm the initial positive result.

The rest of the team is now in isolation, and their game against the Elasto Painters at the AUF Gym will be rescheduled to a later date.

"(I) was really thinking of not playing today kung tinuloy ang game. (We) wouldn't want to put Rain or Shine at risk din," said Blackwater coach Nash Racela. 

"(We're) thankful that the PBA canceled our game."

Postponing the game is the "best approach," according to Racela, to keep everyone else safe.

"Actually, hindi ko nga alam kung ano eh, kunyari tinuloy nila 'yung game, how it would develop," he said.

"Kasi ako, personally I'd rather not go to the game, again for safety reasons. Again I'm thankful na they decided to cancel it," he added.

Racela and his team are now waiting to undergo another round of testing. They had just gotten tested last Thursday, after exposure to a referee who was initially tagged as a suspected positive case. 

The game official has since returned negative results for both antigen and RT-PCR tests.

"Our approach right now is day to day," said Racela. "(We're) still staying calm and looking for the positives."

Racela did acknowledge that there was some "relaxation" from the team when it came to following the protocols of the bubble -- a situation that the coach felt was "understandable," given the circumstances. 

He pointed out that everyone who entered the bubble in Clark, Pampanga returned negative tests ahead of the restart of the Philippine Cup, and no one aside from the PBA delegation was allowed in the area.

Given the recent developments, however, the PBA is looking to enforce those protocols more strictly, and Racela says they will remind their players to be more vigilant as well.

"The only thing you can do really is remind everyone na mag-ingat pa rin, yung distancing pa rin because you never know. Hindi mo alam kung anong pwedeng mangyari eh," he said.

"We keep on reminding the team na mag-ano pa rin, magprotect pa rin, maghugas ng kamay, mag-alcohol, mag face mask kasi yun ang importante," he added. "So somtimes, you get really comfortable being with each other nakakalimutan niyo minsan yung ganun. So we still remind them." 

The Elite's most recent opponent, TNT Tropang Giga, is also in isolation. TNT routed Blackwater, 109-96, in their game last Thursday.

Blackwater currently has a 2-3 win-loss record in the PBA Philippine Cup, which is being held in a "bubble" in Clark, Pampanga.