Guiao tells NLEX ‘to be prepared psychologically’ ahead of bubble restart
MANILA, Philippines — The prospect of playing and living inside a bubble environment is intriguing as it’s tightly monitored due to the health concerns surrounding COVID-19 and for the fact that it’ll be done for the first time in PBA history.
It has pros and cons with the league able to resume its 2020 season but at the same time, the major adjustments and sacrifices will have to be made as the players try to get used to being holed up in Clark, Pampanga for the duration of the bubble.
Far from their families and with no fans in attendance, the players will be experiencing an environment unlike any other and it’s this scenario that NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao has been preparing his players for.
“Several weeks ago when we knew that there was a possibility of a bubble, I was already preparing them psychologically during our meetings in Zoom and at our practice,” said Guiao in a conversation with Inquirer Sunday.
“I kept reminding players that this is not a walk in the park, this is not a picnic nor a vacation.”
The league will start arriving at the bubble on Sept. 26 and will stay at Quest Hotel with team scrimmages starting the day after and the official matches commencing on Oct. 9 until the middle of December wherein a Philippine Cup champion will be crowned.
With the threat of the virus always present, strict protocols have been implemented including regular testing and limited movement.
Once inside the bubble, no one may go out and those who do leave won’t be allowed to return.
“You have to be prepared psychologically and total focus is on basketball for 24 hours,” said Guiao. “Your focus is to improve yourself, be competitive, win games, so for more than two months your focus is on basketball.”
“Psychologically, it’s really a burden. We need to follow the protocols, and we’ve been trying to ingrain that into their minds.”
To help the players and those living in the bubble cope with the situation, the league already prepared access to golf courts, water sports facilities, swimming pools, a horse ranch, and indoor sports like billiards and table tennis.
Guiao, who doesn’t play golf, said the mere presence of a wide open space full of greenery will be enough for anyone to relax but it’s always better if you’re enjoying the environment while winning.
“Personally I don’t play golf, maybe the players who do will enjoy that, but the simple activity of walking around trees, the grass, the fresh air will be enough. There are facilities but you’ll eventually get bored with it after two weeks,” said Guiao. “Maybe the consolation is if you continue winning then it’s easier to accept the fact that you’re living in a bubble. But if you’re losing then that’ll be harder.”
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