At Clark, layers of health measures keep everyone in PBA bubble safe
CLARK—“This is not your first specimen, right?” asked one of the nurses who handle the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) COVID-19 screening test at the Quest Hotel here.
“Just grab one of those tissues if you feel like sneezing,” another said, nonchalantly, as they began the process of vetting those who will soon be part of a rarity in Philippine sports: The country’s biggest professional sports entertainment vehicle parked under and extremely controlled environment in the face of a health crisis.
The NBA has succeeded. Can the PBA follow suit?
Early indications show the league is not leaving anything to chance.
The test administered to the latest bubble residents, which included the Inquirer and other select media outlets, was the second in less than a week, part of the multiple layers of security for players, coaches, trainers, league staff and a handful of journalists who are taking part in the league’s ambitious bid to reboot its stalled 45th season.
The second-to-last batch of PBA delegates arrived here on Wednesday noon, and was welcomed to what several coaches and athletes lauded: stringent health measures that included luggage and gear sanitation, logging in on a monitoring phone app, a short interview and a thermal checkup.
“We’ll see you after you’re all free,” Blackwater coach Nash Racela teased journalists, shortly after emerging from another bus. Fresh from training, his wards lagged as their bags, too, needed to be sanitized upon reentry to the home bubble.
The PBA delegation is being placed under two restrictive areas: The play bubble is where the action happens, at Angeles University Foundation. The other bubble is where the group is billeted, at Mimosa.
“You’ll be locked up for a while. But after that, it’s all busy time,” Bong Tulabot, the TNT and longtime Gilas utility staffer told the Inquirer in a quick exchange as he raced toward the hotel’s entrance to prepare the Tropang Giga’s practice gear.
Interviews and other face-to-face interactions are discouraged outside of the allowed protocols, which include a filed request for virtual Q&As.
There’s no interaction even with hotel food staff. All orders are delivered to a room’s front door.
After the entry test, everyone is put on 48-hour isolation unless negative results are released earlier.
Inside the hotel, the entire PBA delegation is each one’s neighbor. No one else not involved in the league’s restart is allowed in.
The Inquirer was assigned to room 403. The next-door resident? Calvin Abueva, Phoenix Super LPG’s suspended star, who the league is likely to reinstate for this compressed Philippine Cup that will be played daily.
Everything inside the bubble is circuital.
And it will stay—should stay—just like that, if the PBA hopes to crown another all-Filipino winner just before Christmastime.
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