MANILA, Philippines -- Players and organizers breathed a sigh of relief on Friday after the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup was completed in its bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna without any issue.
With over a hundred persons staying in the facility, including broadcasters and staffers, not once was it under threat by the continuing COVID-19 crisis during the two-week duration of the competition.
"Bale nag-history tayo," said Alvin Pasaol, part of the champion Zamboanga City Chooks squad. "COVID-free, walang nagkasakit."
"We made history about playing 3x3 na zero positive tayo ngayon," he added.
"It's a big accomplishment for us to be in here two weeks and everybody stayed COVID-free," said Joshua Munzon, whose longball gave Zamboanga City the championship over Nueva Ecija in the Final. "Hats off to, you know, the production and everybody behind the scenes."
Chooks 3x3 opted to hold its conference in a "full bubble" set-up after initially being denied approval by the government.
The organizers of the tournament, Inspire Sports and Bounty Agro Ventures Inc., put in place health protocols before anyone entered the bubble, and ensured that they were strictly followed throughout the duration of the tournament.
For Pasaol, the success of the tournament inside such a set-up bodes well for future conferences.
"It's a good sign," the former University of the East star said. "Baka by end of the year or December, makabalik tayo ulit, makapaglaro tayo ulit, may tournament pa ulit."
It's also a good sign for the Inspire Sports facility itself, which has proven that it can host a "full bubble" for sports events in the time of the pandemic. There are already reports that it is being eyed as a venue for the training of the Gilas Pilipinas national team for the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers.
Even before the Chooks 3x3 President's Cup was held there, Inspire already hosted a brief training camp by the TNT Tropang Giga ahead of the resumption of the PBA Philippine Cup.
"Thankfully, the whole facility met all the standards of a bubble venue. Aside from the world-class facilities we have, the hotel rooms are up to par with what players expect," JM Pilares, Inspire Sports Academy's head of sales.
"The goal of the facility is to serve athletes. We want to provide a holistic approach to their development," he added. "On top of the world-class facilities, we have programs for different sports. It's really a one-stop shop to avail of these services athletes need to maximize their full potential."