MANILA - The head of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) vows to implement even stricter protocols and regulations to ensure that the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers will proceed without a hitch next year.
Clark has been chosen as the venue for one of the bubbles of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, after its successful staging of the PBA Philippine Cup from late September to early December.
"We're very, very much looking forward to future sporting events, such as this very important one in February, which would be the FIBA qualifiers," BCDA President Vince Dizon said in a press briefing, Saturday.
Eight teams from two groups will compete in the qualifying window that runs from February 17 to 22. South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand join the Philippines in Group A, while the country also agreed to host Australia, New Zealand, Guam, and Hong Kong from Group C.
Al Panlilio, the president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), believes that the success of the PBA bubble paved the way for the country's hosting of the FIBA qualifying window.
"It was a very big success, and because of its success, it really paved the way for us as SBP to really work with FIBA and offer the same Clark bubble for a FIBA competition in February," he explained.
"We're very proud of the success of the PBA bubble and because of that, we're able to showcase this success for other international events," he added.
Still, the PBA bubble did not go smoothly. Games were stopped in early November after a referee and a player tested positive, though they were subsequently tabbed as "false positives." The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) stepped in to institute stricter protocols that the league followed until the completion of the conference earlier this month.
Dizon says Clark has learned plenty from its hosting of the PBA and they are now more prepared to handle another "bubble."
"We want to assure everybody that we will ensure the safety and the health of everyone in the bubble," Dizon stressed. "That is the first and most important objective that we have."
"Building on the success of the PBA bubble, gagawin pa nating mas strikto and mas safe ang upcoming bubble na ito," he added.
This includes strictly following the existing Inter-Agency Task Force protocols for those who are entering the country. Dizon assures that even if the players and coaches of foreign teams produce negative COVID tests from their own countries, they will still have to be tested upon arrival.
"They need to wait for results in a designated isolation facility. We cannot make any exceptions there," he stressed. "We will follow standard testing and isolation protocols for all arriving passengers from abroad."
They will also retain the dedicated COVID-19 quarantine facility that was put in place for the PBA bubble. Initially, those who tested positive were brought to the Athletes' Village in New Clark City, before they designated a separate quarantine facility closer to Clark.
Teams will still stay at the Quest Hotel, which hosted the PBA delegation for over a month, and games will be played at the AUF Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga.
"First time nating ginawa ito noong October and marami tayong natutunan," said Dizon.
"We have learned from all of the issues, and we're ready to successfully host another bubble," he added.