The longest week in Clark

Published October 25, 2020, 11:42 PM

by Jeremiah Sevilla

Photos courtesy of Jeremiah Sevilla and PBA Images

ANGELES CITY–In just a span of a week, the announcement of the two “suspect” cases inside PBA bubble reverberated not just around the league but also to the entire sports community.

The first case is a referee while the second one is a player of the Blackwater Elite. 

Here’s a timeline of the events from October 19 to 25, so far the longest, most tiring, and mentally draining stretch inside the bubble.

Monday, October 19 

All the players and staff of the 12 teams (except for late arrivals) tested negative for Covid-19 based on their second round of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing inside the bubble. 

Meanwhile, the referees, eight PBA staff and five table officials underwent their second cycle of testing. 

Tuesday, October 20 

At around 11 p.m., one of the referees was found to have tested positive for Covid-19. The referee officiated in the Blackwater vs Alaska game prior to the result.  

Wednesday, October 21 

Confirming the bad news, the PBA officially announced the first “suspect case” inside the bubble who is a referee. The pool of referees was trimmed down to seven as the other seven officials were ruled as close contacts and were immediately brought to isolation. 

Games pushed through as scheduled, but activities inside the Quest Hotel such as gym workouts, swimming and jogging were prohibited to give way to full disinfection. 

The referee was put under quarantine at the Athlete’s Village, a national quarantine facility in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. He tested negative on the antigen test administered there, raising the possibility of him being a “false positive”. 

Thursday, October 22 

Blackwater and Alaska had another round of RT-PCR tests before their games against Rain or Shine and TNT, respectively. The Aces even had an antigen test which came out negative. 

Ginebra guard LA Tenorio, several PBA staff, members of the media and TV crew had their second swab test in the bubble. 

Later on, the seven referees who were established as close contacts had their retest. 

Friday, October 23

Games proceeded without a hitch. 

Saturday, October 24 

Alaska, which was negative on the antigen test but has yet to know the result of RT-PCR retest, played defending champion San Miguel. 

Sunday, October 25 

The PBA announced the second “suspect case” which was revealed as a player of Blackwater. 

Same to the protocols that the first case underwent, the player was extracted from the Quest Hotel at 5 a.m. and was put under quarantine at NCC. 

His close contacts were notified to isolate themselves, while the whole Elite squad remained on their rooms, resulting to the postponement of their game against Rain or Shine. 

The first suspect case, a referee, was negative on his confirmatory RT-PCR test, solidifying the assumption that he is a “false positive”. 

Tenorio, PBA staff, members of the media and TV5 crew returned negative results from their second swab test in the bubble. 

The seven referees who were established as close contacts of the first suspect case were turned negative result. Four of them were deployed to officiate in the Manila Clasico featuring Barangay Ginebra and Magnolia.

In the same presser, the PBA bared that the Blackwater cager came out negative on the antigen test done at the Athlete’s Village. This raised the possibility that he could be a similar “false positive” case as the referee. 

Commissioner Willie Marcial assured that they are doing all the necessary steps to keep the bubble intact together with the Clark Development Corporation and Bases Conversion and Development Authority headed by Vince Dizon. 

It was also revealed that TNT, which played Blackwater last Thursday, yielded a negative result on antigen. 

However, the tipoff of the TNT vs NorthPort game on Monday is still unknown pending the result of the confirmatory RT-PCR test on the Blackwater player. 

Regardless of the result, Calvin Abueva will return to court action on Monday as Phoenix takes on NLEX. Abueva got the go-signal from the PBA early Sunday.