MANILA, Philippines -- The country's COVID-19 testing czar has assured the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) of his support, in the league's quest for permission from the government to resume its season in a bubble in Clark next month.
Vince Dizon, who is also the head of the Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), believes that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) will accept the league's proposal to restart the All-Filipino Cup.
Dizon was part of the group that proposed to host the PBA bubble at Clark, touting the city's world-class facilities and capability to ensure the safety and security of the league in their pitch to the Board of Governors.
"Alam niyo naman po, ako din po ay involved sa National Task Force Against COVID-19," Dizon said in an appearance on "Sports Page" on Monday night. "At ngayon po ang ating direksyon ay paunti-unti na, kailangan na nating buksan ang ekonomiya."
"Naisip po namin, what better symbol of trying to get back to normal or going into the new normal than restarting the most important pastime in the Philippines, which is basketball," he said.
The PBA granted Clark hosting rights on Thursday, with the intent of restarting the All-Filipino Cup on October 9. However, their plans are still dependent on the approval of the IATF.
According to PBA chairman Ricky Vargas, they have already made a formal request to the IATF to approve their plans for a bubble.
"The PBA itself has been in close coordination with the IATF for several months now," Dizon said. "Sumulat na po sila initially tungkol sa mga scrimmages."
"Ngayon kagaya ng sinabi ni chairman Ricky, ang PBA po ay magpapadala na ng formal na request para i-approve po ng IATF ang PBA bubble. So kami po ay susuporta diyan, tutulong po kami," Dizon guaranteed.
Dizon, who was named chief testing czar last July, believes the PBA's request will be looked upon favorably by the IATF because of the strict health and safety protocols they have put in place.
PBA teams have been safely practicing since late August, and no player has so far returned a positive COVID-19 test.
"Siyempre subject po sa approval ng IATF, pero naniniwala naman po kami na kung in place naman po ang ating mga protocols, at masisigurado natin na talagang very safe ang ating gagawin, tulad ng ginagawa nila sa NBA na ginagawa sa Disney World, tingin ko naman po ay magiging open po ang IATF at ang gobyerno para dito," said Dizon.
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial previously said that he expects a response from the IATF by the end of this week. The plan is for the league's 12 teams to enter the bubble by September 26, with games to start on October 9. The teams play each other in a single round-robin format in the elimination round, with the top four earning twice-to-beat bonuses in the quarterfinals.
The semifinals will be a best-of-5 affair, and the finals will be best-of-7.