Fate of bubble hangs in balance

Published October 30, 2020, 4:46 PM

by Jeremiah Sevilla

The Department of Health will release a new set of protocols for the PBA bubble. (PBA Images)

The past days were a bit uneasy for the PBA after it disclosed its first COVID-19 “suspect” case in the bubble. It only took a few days before the league confirmed the second infection which turned out to be a Blackwater player.

It was uncomfortable news for most of the 350-man delegation, which has been in a consistent cycle since the bulk of troops arrived in the last week of September.

Eat, sleep, practice and play.

Yet the PBA remained intact and labeled the situation as “under control.” The playdates went on since the first infection was confirmed October 20. Everything seemed fine, albeit stricter protocols and anxious moments among the teams.

Not until Friday.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial received a letter at 10:30 a.m. The header says it’s from Department of Health. The chief was shocked.

“Bigla kaming sinulatan,” Marcial said through a phone interview.

“So, hindi namin alam, ligaw kami.”

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial (PA Images)

The league has endured the days of challenges and has coped up well to ensure the conference would proceed as planned. Two games of Blackwater were scrapped from the schedule, rounds of retest were done, activities were postponed, while the entire delegation was placed on stringent measures to avoid further infection.

Reading the letter, Marcial said the DOH, under the direct command of the powerful Inter-Agency Task Force, requires the league to put the Philippine Cup to a complete halt until “new protocols” are set in place.

The commissioner has informed the teams, who were also left in disarray after the intervention of the DOH.

The referee tested positive on an RT-PCR test while the player of Blackwater turned positive, too, last October 25.

Both the referee and the player were brought to the New Clark City mega quarantine facility in Capas, Tarlac, where they were deemed as “false positive” after testing negative on antigen and confirmatory RT-PCR. 

The cancellation of games would mean an adjustment to the schedule of the Philippine Cup.

But Marcial, who led the planning and staging of the multi-million project north of Metro Manila, could do nothing but to follow the instruction.

“Sumunod na lang tayo,” he said.

Practices were also suspended at the AUF Arena, but activities inside the Quest Hotel such as gym workouts, swimming, walking, jogging and playing billiards are still allowed.