THE first batch of PBA teams depart for Clark Freeport on Monday in the lead going to a historic Philippine Cup to be played inside a bubble.
Magnolia, Phoenix, TnT Katropa, Terra Firma, and Meralco are the first five ballclubs heading to Pampanga for the start of a two-week scrimmage before the Oct. 11 restart to the season.
Defending champion San Miguel, Barangay Ginebra, Rain or Shine, Alaska, NLEX, NorthPort, and Blackwater follow the next day.
All teams underwent swab testing last Sept. 23 and 24 and had to observe a five-day home isolation before leaving for Clark, which is part of the mandatory protocol being implemented by the league.
Upon arriving at the Quest Hotel, all players and team personnel are again required to be tested and follow a 24-hour isolation in their respective rooms.
All those who will be tested negative are finally a go to start scrimmages.
Teams are naturally looking forward to the season reboot after being idle for the past six months due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re very happy na after six months nakabalik ulit kami sa pinaka-gusto naming gawin which is to play basketball,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
“Excited but we also have some important things to do that we need to focus during our preparation for this bubble. Very limited lang yung time ng preparation. Pero ganun talaga, everybody needs to sacrifice para mabigyan natin ng mapapanood ang mga kabataan natin.”
The Hotshots and Beermen are the only teams to play this season, with the latter winning, 94-78.
Coach Topex Robinson is also ready for the challenge as he calls the shots for the Phoenix Fuel Masters for the very first time.
“We know that it will be a challenging experience being away from our families,” he said. “But still blessed to be in a situation to grow.”