MANILA - PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial personally talked to some of the Magnolia Hotshots on Sunday, to assure them of the integrity of the league bubble after a player reported a positive COVID-19 result.
A player from Blackwater was removed from the PBA bubble in Clark, Pampanga early Sunday morning and transferred to the Athletes' Village in New Clark City, where he is currently in isolation.
Because of the development, the Elite's game against Rain or Shine was postponed, but the league decided to push through with the Manila Clasico between Magnolia and Barangay Ginebra.
"Actually this morning, I called the Commissioner and I asked him na, 'Comm ano ba 'yung sitwasyon natin?' Because some of my players are asking kung tuloy ba 'yung game kasi nga na-cancel 'yung first game," Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said afterward.
"I talked to the commissioner para mas straight up kung ano talaga 'yung gagawin. And he told me na tuloy naman, and 'yung dalawang team lang ang may magka-quarantine," he added.
Despite the uncertain atmosphere, the game still pushed through at the AUF Gym in Angeles City, with Magnolia coming away with a 102-92 win.
The Hotshots snapped a three-game slide in the bubble, while Ginebra suffered its first loss after winning its first four games in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Victolero admitted, however, that his team still needed the assurance of the commissioner, given the situation surrounding the league. Aside from Blackwater, the TNT Tropang Giga are also in isolation.
"Sabi ko, 'Comm, pwede ba makausap mo 'yung ilang key players ko, para at least magkaroon sila ng peace of mind'," said the coach.
"Pumayag naman siya, and I texted all my players to stay focused and you know, we're safe and the Commissioner assured us na we're safe in the bubble," he said.
Marcial, together with officials of Clark and the league's medical consultant, Dr. Jose Canlas, have repeatedly assured that the PBA bubble has not been breached.
"Safe po ang mga players dito, and'yan po lahat ang medical experts, 'wag kayong mag-alala," Marcial said in a press conference on Sunday morning.
Vince Dizon, the president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, said: "I think there is no reason to say that the bubble has been breached."
Victolero said they took the Commissioner's word and put their focus instead on the game against their great rivals.
"Nag-settle down lang 'yung minds namin na parang meron kaming kailangang business ngayon na tapusin," he said.
The Hotshots have lost the past four editions of the Manila Clasico before Sunday night's breakthrough win.