PSA Forum: With an eye on NBA model, PBA execs look to create own ‘bubble’

Published August 25, 2020, 5:00 PM

by Jonas Terrado

PBA chairman Ricky Vargas, top left, and PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, top right, at the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum webcast on Tuesday.

The PBA is exploring the possibility of holding a bubble concept if plans for the suspended 45th season resumes in mid-October.

Commissioner Willie Marcial and chairman Ricky Vargas shared Tuesday that the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Calamba, Batangas, Subic and Clark have been identified as possible locations in the event the league decides to adopt the concept currently practiced by the NBA.

Currently in the middle of its first round playoff series, the NBA has been housing teams at the Walt Disney World complex in Orlando in an effort to finish the season that was put on hold last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We do not have a choice, may model na e. The model is the NBA and we should just go ahead and look forward to the time na maglalaro na tayo, whether it’s the NBA way or a more innovative way,” Vargas said in the online session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.

The Inspire Sports Academy of National University in Calamba, Laguna has been looked upon by the league. It’s the same venue where TNT KaTropa will hold a 20-day bubble training starting Wednesday.

Araneta is also being eyed since the historic coliseum is located beside the Novotel, a hotel which can be used as an option for the league to house its teams and staff.

Marcial, on the other hand, said that he talked to a golf course owner and former PBA star Willie Miller regarding the prospect of a Subic bubble.

Marcial said he has already asked his staff led by deputy commissioner Eric Castro to explore the option before meeting with the PBA Board of Governors to decide on its feasibility.

“Kung mapupunta sa sinasabi ni chairman na bubble, ilalatag ko sa kanila lahat tas tignan namin ang mga options,” Marcial said.

The PBA acknowledged that finances will play a large role if the bubble is applied.

The NBA spent $170 million (P8.25 billion) to invest on the bubble which aside from housing the teams are also spending on daily COVID-19 tests and other amenities.

“We will have to look at our own financials kung pwede sagutin ng PBA yan, or if it will be shared by the teams,” said Vargas. “So these are important issues that we have to discuss in the board.”