PBA teams make smooth entry into bubble

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2020 04:08 PM

The NLEX Road Warriors arrive in Clark, Pampanga on September 29, 2020 for the duration of the All-Filipino Cup which will restart on October 11. After only playing one game last March before the lockdown, the PBA's 45th season will be adopting the "bubble" format where games will be held in one venue in Clark, Pampanga. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines -- PBA teams encountered no issues in entering the league's bubble in Clark, Pampanga on Monday and Tuesday, with managers reporting to commissioner Willie Marcial that the players are "okay."

Teams arrived in batches at the Quest Hotel, with five squads arriving Monday and the other seven arriving Tuesday.

"Nagre-report sa akin ang governors at managers, okay naman. Nasa loob sila, 'di pa pwede lumabas. As of kahapon, okay daw ang sabi ng mga governors," Marcial said of the teams.

The Magnolia Hotshots were the first team to arrive. The TNT Tropang Giga, Terra Firma Dyip, Meralco Bolts, and the Phoenix Fuel Masters then followed suit.

On Tuesday, Quest Hotel welcomed the NLEX Road Warriors, the Blackwater Elite, the Alaska Aces, and the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings in the afternoon.

"Kumpleto na po ang teams ngayong araw na 'to. May dumating na lima kahapon at pito ngayon. Ang delegates ng PBA darating ng October 7," said Marcial, who was grateful that the PBA squads made smooth entries into the hotel.

Vince Dizon, the president of the Bases and Conversion Development Authority, said the bubble "has been specifically designed to ensure the safety and health of everyone" who will enter. This includes not just the players and the coaches, but also the PBA staff, the hotel staff, and drivers of each team's dedicated bus. 

"We will ensure not only the integrity of the bubble as our participants enter, but we ensure the integrity of the bubble throughout the next months while the PBA is playing in Clark," he guaranteed.

Before players disembark from their buses, they are already briefed by a staff member on what to expect in the bubble. They will then undergo a clinical triage, where they are checked for COVID-19 symptoms. In order to officially enter the Quest Hotel, they have to scan a QR code to update the Stay Safe app, the official contact tracing application of the Inter-Agency Task Force.

Once inside the hotel, they will wait for their turn to undergo another swab test. As they wait, the players and coaches will be given their room keys.

Players, coaches, referees, and everyone involved in the bubble will have to isolate in their rooms for 24 to 48 hours while waiting for the results of their tests. Once they test negative, they will be allowed to start scrimmages.

"It's a very easy and efficient system, but very very safe for our players and staff," Dizon said.

The process received a thumbs up from Alaska head coach Jeff Cariaso, who said it was "efficient."

The PBA will officially resume its All-Filipino Cup on October 11, with all games to be held at the Angeles University Foundation, a venue that is a 10-minute drive away from the hotel.