Return to practice next for these 3 teams
San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua bared Wednesday that two of the three PBA ballclubs under the SMC banner have already taken their swab tests at the company’s health facility at Ortigas Center in Pasig two days before nine other pro teams are scheduled at the Makati Medical Center.
Players and coaches of San Miguel Beer and Magnolia had their real time RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests Tuesday, all yielding negative results, while the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings had theirs Wednesday afternoon, with the outcome made available later that evening or early Thursday morning.
Talk ‘N Text, Meralco, NLEX, Rain or Shine, NorthPort, Alaska, Columbian, Phoenix LPG and Blackwater have RT-PCR test appointments Thursday and Friday at Makati Med, a hospital owned by the MVP Group.
Chua, the Kings’ team manager and representative to the PBA board, believes his team will pass the swab test as well, lifting the last barrier for their return to practice as approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force and a Joint Administrative Order signed by the Games and Amusements Board, Philippine Sports Commission and Department of Health after a five-month lockdown precipitated by the coronavirus outbreak.
“This is actually our second test; we also had swab testing last month,” Chua, who expressed optimism the stalled PBA 45th season will finally get going even at a grindingly-slow pace, told the Manila Bulletin.
“Masaya din ako kahit papa’no dahil we need naman talaga to restart somewhere,” he said. “Pero siempre dahan-dahan lang.”
Under the updated JAO guidelines, only four players will be allowed to spend an hour inside the sanitized facility, accompanied by a coach and a physical therapist who will also serve as health officer.
Upper Deck in Ortigas will house Kings practice, Ronac in San Juan will cater to the Hotshots and Acropolis in Quezon City will be made available to the defending Philippine Cup champion Beermen.
SMB and Magnolia opened the 2020 season last March 8 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum before an emerging COVID-19, already on the threshold of a full-blown pandemic, forced the rest of the games’ cancellation.
The IATF, responding to a letter from the PBA, allowed the resumption of practice for professional basketball and football early last month, prompting the scramble of both leagues for fulfillment of remaining requirements, including the swab testing of coaches and players.
A scheduled RT-PCR test at Makati Med early this month was put off after the government imposed Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine on Metro Manila and surrounding provinces in response to a timeout appeal from overworked doctors and health workers.
That latest restriction, which prohibits sports training, among others, was lifted Wednesday, with the government putting Mega Manila back under General Community Quarantine.
READ: 14-day quarantine for players, coaches who will test positive for COVID-19, says Commissioner Marcial
PBA commissioner Willie Marcial has targeted August 25 for the start of team practice.
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Earlier reports said SMC, through its president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang, had offered its swab testing facility to the nine other PBA teams. The need, however, to resume training as early as possible has forced the non-SMC ballclubs to look elsewhere, with Makati Med made available.
“Kaya ng facility namin to test hundreds a day,” said Chua. “Pero 20 results a day lang. E 300 plus ata lahat ng PBA pag tinotal. Matatagalan ang labas ng results at made-delay ang start ng ensayo. Kaya sabi ni Chairman Ricky [Vargas of TNT KaTropa] sa Makati Med na lang sila.”