Semi-bubble part of NCAA talks

Published December 20, 2020, 3:55 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Officials of the NCAA are thinking of doing a semi-bubble if activities in Season 96 would push through.

A source said Sunday that school officials have been in discussion on holding a basketball tournament in March 2021, but this would only happen under strict health measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Pinag-uusapan na yan kung papaanong gagawin, kung anong klaseng bubble bas aka anong mga health protocols, guidelines,” said the source, who asked not to be named.

The same source explained that the league is considering two bubble playing venues, one in the Intramuros area and one in the vicinity of Mendiola – both located in the City of Manila.

In Intramuros, Lyceum of the Philippines University and Mapua have expressed desire to host the games, while for Mendiola, both Arellano University and San Beda University are willing to serve as venue.

Small venues, said the source, is ideal for the NCAA since it’s easy to disinfect the area after the games. Also, bigger venues like The Arena in San Juan, Araneta Coliseum and Mall of Asia Arena are not needed since fans would not be allowed inside the venues.

“Walang fans, tapos televised naman. So hindi kailangan ng malaking venues even for the Final Four or Finals,” said the source.

As for the billeting of teams, officials are considering housing the players, coaching staff and key team personnel at the school quarters with a neutral health official implementing a standard guideline to be approved by the league.

That setup, according to the source, protects the integrity of the protocols that assures safety against the coronavirus.

“Hindi school ang magi-implement, may safety officers na talagang tututok, magi-implement ng guidelines for the teams. Saka ang punta lang, from quarters to the playing venues and then back to the quarters,” the source said.

NCAA officials have rescheduled an online meeting next week with PBA commissioner Willie Marcial in hopes to get information after the pro league held a successful two-month bubble tournament for the Philippine Cup in Clark, Pampanga.

Aside from basketball, the league previously mentioned three other traditional sports for Season 96, namely volleyball, swimming and track and field, as well as cheerleading competition.

Meanwhile, aside from these four traditional sports, the league is also thinking of holding a bubble tournament for demonstration sports 3×3 basketball at Inspire in Calamba, Laguna.