Bubble or closed circuit? PBA discussing all options for Season 46

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 22 2020 03:39 PM

Bubble or closed circuit? PBA discussing all options for Season 46 1
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines -- After successfully completing its 2020 PBA Philippine Cup in a biosecure "bubble" in Clark, Pampanga earlier this month, the PBA is now studying its options for its 46th season, which the league hopes to start in April 2021.

The PBA stayed for over two months in Clark, with teams and league personnel billeted at the Quest Hotel, while games were played at the AUF Gym in Angeles City, a 20 to 30-minute drive from the hotel. 

There were some snags -- a game official and a player returned positive results, but subsequently tested negative for COVID-19 and were cleared by the league. 

They also had to briefly stop games in early November in order to shore up their protocols in the wake of the "false positives," but the PBA eventually completed its conference on December 9, with Barangay Ginebra winning the All-Filipino crown.

Another bubble remains an option for the league for its 46th season next year, but commissioner Willie Marcial said they are also considering a "closed circuit" system where players and coaches go from their homes to the gyms, and then back, while following strict protocols to ensure their safety. 

"Titingnan nga natin, depende kung anong sitwasyon, at depende kung anong pinapayagan ng government natin," Marcial said on Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.

"So kung pwedeng wala nang bubble, may vaccine, malaking bagay na sa atin 'yun. Two, kung wala pang vaccine, titingnan natin 'yung closed circuit na ginagawa natin, o 'yung dating bubble," he added.

The PBA already has some experience in implementing a closed circuit system. 

It was what they used when teams were allowed to resume practices in September, with players and coaches going from their houses, to their vehicles, and then to each team's respective practice facility and back. 

Marcial admits that while their bubble was successful, it also had its drawbacks. The first month in Clark saw members of the delegation adjusting to their new reality, including being away from their families. 

Moreover, it was a costly endeavor as the league spent an estimated P65 million to P70 million to pull it off.

At the moment, all options -- including another bubble -- is on the table for the league.

"Hintayin muna natin," said Marcial, who stressed that the government will have a say on how they will run the upcoming season.

"Baka may vaccine na sa April, sana meron, para hindi na tayo mag-bubble. Sana makapanood na rin 'yung mga fans. Kung hindi, tingnan natin 'yung closed circuit, o kaya 'yung dating bubble," he added.

Vince Dizon, the president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority and deputy chief implementer of the National Action Plan Against COVID-19, said the Inter-Agency Task Force will support the PBA, regardless of how they choose to run the season.

"PBA will always be welcome in Clark, always," added Dizon, who played a big role in bringing the PBA to Clark bubble.

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