The training facility, sanitized to hospital standard, awaits the first batch of Phoenix Fuel Master players starting Wednesday if no new round of stricter quarantine measures is announced overnight.
At one hour intervals, as outlined in the Joint Administrative Order guidelines signed by the Games and Amusements Board, Philippine Sports Commission and Department of Health that rendered official the Inter-Agency Task Force’s green-lighting PBA team practice, a quartet from Phoenix LPG will make their way, one after the other, to the Upper Deck gym in Ortigas, Pasig accompanied by a coach and a physical therapist to serve as health worker.
It could be head coach Louie Alas or one of his assistants joining the first batch of “pioneer pros” who haven’t been teammates setting foot on the playing court since the Philippine Cup, kicking off the 45th PBA season in mid-March, was cancelled after just one game due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Attend ako, probably sa second batch,” Alas told Manila Bulletin Sunday via Facebook Messenger. “I’ll have to dry run the drills with my staff para uniform ang workout drills ng team.”
The exhaustively stringent procedure, a first in the annals of the four-decade-old pro league, will be repeated in training venues around Metro Manila as 11 other PBA ballclubs take a big leap of faith with the smallest step allowed in a bid to move into scrimmage stage next month and, possibly, spectator-less, made-for-TV games in October or late this year.
For Alas and Phoenix, practice will be slow and deliberate.
“Gradual lang ang frequency, from light to moderate to medium and hard sa first four weeks,” Alas said. “There will be lots of ball control and handling, and also footwork.
”But weekly, may progression ang drills.”
The Upper Deck staff will take charge of the venue’s sanitation, and the players’ needs — bottled water and energy drink — will be made available before they arrive, with the next batch of players made to wait outside the gym for five minutes or more until after the previous group had left.
“Reports will be filled up and submitted to the health officer for forwarding to the PBA,” said Alas. “Everything will be documented.”
Also, since no ballboy will be around to pack the players’ gears, each one has to lug his stuff, including his own basketball.
“That’s right, kanya-kanyang bola sila,” said Alas. “At ipapauwi ko na sa kanila yon pag alis nila. Two balls will be provided each player, if there’s enough. Pag kulang, tig-isa na lang.”
Passing drills won’t be allowed either.
“Mag-wall passing muna sila to avoid contact.”
Among those who will attend the resumption of Phoenix practice is rugged forward Calvin Abueva, who remains suspended after running afoul with the Commissioner’s Office last season.
READ: Waiting game as Calvin Abueva completes conditions for reinstatement; Abueva focused on return despite offers abroad
“Yes, nag-swab test din siya, done na rin psych classes niya (6 sessions),” said Alas. “Lahat ng pinagawa ng PBA, okey na siya. I-evaluate na lang ni commissioner [Willie Marcial].”
READ: Bolts, Dyip, KaTropa, Fuel Masters take part in swab testing procedure; ‘Controlled Beast’ is what Alas expects from Abueva
What about him? How long does he intend to stay in the facility?
“After workout nong second batch, uwi na ko,” he said.
Meanwhile, results for the swab testing procedure on the nine PBA teams last August 20 and 21 at the Makati Medical Center are expected to be released after 48 to 72 hours.
“By 3 p.m. today (Sunday), 72 hours na kami,” said Alas.