About 12 days ago, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) had a lot of reasons to celebrate after a zero infection rate in its bubble at Clark Freeport. Two days later, it logged its first cause for worry; a positive coronavirus test that was later revealed as false by a retest. Then a player from one of its teams went through the same scare: another false positive.
On Friday, the league was put on pause.
Amid a suspension of games inside its self-contained zone, the league remains confident in the protocols it put in place to safeguard its delegation at Clark Freeport, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial told the Inquirer.
“We have done, in my opinion, everything we need to keep our players, officials and everyone else safe,” Marcial said in Filipino, adding the league and its bubble partners, Clark Development Corp. and Bases Conversion Development Authority, will heed the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases’ (IATF) Technical Working Group and the Department of Health (DOH) Advisory Group of Experts to postpone games until a new set of protocols is enforced.
With Friday’s doubleheader put on hold, teams underwent another round of mandatory testing, with results expected on Saturday morning.
The league met with coaches of all the teams on Friday. TNT coach Bong Ravena said they discussed “testing and bubble protocols.”
“We were told to wait for updates tomorrow,” Ravena added.
The postponement was made to ensure the integrity and safety of the league’s multisite bubble in Clark Freeport and Angeles City after the ambitious reboot was marred by the two false positives.
A game official flunked a required reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test for the delegates on Oct. 20. The league then announced on Oct. 25 that a player from Blackwater also tested positive for the coronavirus. Both were later cleared by confirmatory tests but still made to undergo necessary quarantine periods.
“We’re OK,” Blackwater coach Nash Racela told the Inquirer. “We’re learning to adjust because every day there’s something new that comes out.”
Marcial, however, expressed confidence in the regulations they have in place to ensure the delegation’s safety.
“If you ask me, I am confident of our security measures, of our health protocols,” Marcial said. “We have three layers of security to make sure no one gets in or out of the bubble. We have regular testing.”
Marcial said the IATF recommended a halt in action until it can implement fresh protocols to boost what is already in place.
The league also decided to suspend its practice sessions on Friday afternoon.
Marcial told the Inquirer at Angeles University Foundation (AUF) gym, the games’ venue, that rescheduling the earlier postponed games means that the league will have to tinker with all the other preset schedules, including practice times at AUF, gym and pool use.
“It will be a domino effect,” he said.
Quest hotel’s amenities remain accessible as of press time.
“In compliance with the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases Technical Working Group and the Department of Health Advisory Group of Experts and to ensure the integrity and safety of the PBA bubble, the league is postponing the games starting today, Oct. 30, Friday, until the new protocols proposed by the IATF and DOH are put in place,” the league said in a statement released on Friday.
“The PBA would like thank the IATF, DOH and Clark Development Corp. for their continuous support and guidance,” the statement read.
Before the announced postponement, a doubleheader between NorthPort and Magnolia and Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer were scheduled at AUF.
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