IT'S green and go for the PBA Philippine Cup restart.
The IATF on Thursday gave the pro league the provisional approval to hold scrimmages and five-a-side games leading up to the staging of the season through a bubble at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga.
PBA chairman Ricky Vargas and commissioner Willie Marcial were joined by Vince Dizon, president and CEO of Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), and Noel Manankil, president and CEO of Clark Development Corp. during a virtual presser heralding the resumption of Asia’s pioneering pro league after almost a seven-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are happy, we are ready. The players are ready to go. It’s all now in the hands of our commissioner to see this executed to perfection,” said Vargas.
Dizon expressed gratitude to the IATF leadership led by Department of Health (DoH) Secretary Francisco Duque and cabinet secretary Karlo Nograles for giving the green light that would pave the way for the restart of the league on October 11.
“Nagpapasalamat po tayo na nagbigay sila ng provisional approval for us to begin the preparations for the PBA bubble,” said Dizon, who is also deputy chief implementer of the National Action Plan against COVID-19.
Vargas referred to Dizon as ‘our hero and big supporter who made this happen.’
Prior to the last-minute virtual presser, Dizon presented before the IATF led by Nograles how the PBA bubble will be run and managed in a two-month span beginning on Oct. 11 to the second week of December.
The entire PBA delegation will be billeted at the Quest Hotel in Mimosa, while the playing venue is at the Angeles University Foundation (AUF) gym.
The 12 teams start to depart for Pampanga by batches on Sept. 28 and 29 to prepare for the start of scrimmages at the AUF.
Players, coaches, and other team personnel will have their mandatory swab testing on Thursday and Friday. They were instructed to stay home for the next five days before their departure for Pampanga.
“This is to ensure that they don’t get in contact with anybody before they enter the bubble,” said Dizon.
Upon arriving at the Quest hotel, another swab testing will be done on all team members and while waiting for the result, everybody will be required to stay in their respective rooms for the next 24 hours.
“Once they are negative, then they can proceed playing in the bubble,” said Dizon. “That is the pre-entry and entry protocols that must be followed not only by the players, but also the coaches, staff, and everybody who will be in the bubble.”
Marcial said official submission of lineup will now be on Friday after the opener was moved two days from the original date of Oct. 9.
The Oct. 11 opening day starts at 4 p.m.
“This is a happy event. I think it’s a milestone in (Philippine) sports. We waited so long, six months or more. The PBA has put everything into this bubble,” said Vargas.