Philippine basketball

Creating a bubble: PBA returns with training restart

Delfin Dioquino
The PBA plans to implement a closed circuit bubble and require players to undergo regular testing for the coronavirus

The PBA will soon return to the hardcourt after a four-month hiatus as teams resume training tentatively on July 22 under strict conditions.

As approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), the PBA will implement a closed circuit bubble and will require its players to undergo regular testing for the coronavirus.

If the training restart pans out, the PBA plans to stage the Philippine Cup by October to salvage its 45th season.

How will the bubble work

The closed circuit bubble has a simple concept: players’ travel will be limited to just their houses and training facilities.

Players who “burst” the bubble by receiving guests at their homes or by going elsewhere to run errands will need to report their activities to their designated safety officers and the PBA.

League commissioner Willie Marcial underlined the need for cooperation and honesty from players to prevent the spread of the virus.

“These protocols are not just for you but also for your families and your teammates’ families,” Marcial said in Filipino.

Failure to report activities outside the bubble will lead to a P5,000 fine, with the amount doubling for repeat offenders.

How often will players be tested

Players will undergo swab testing 3 days before the official training restart.

After that, they will be tested every 10 days after the initial swab test since the coronavirus has an incubation period of up to two weeks.

Marcial said San Miguel – which opened its own test laboratory – will facilitate the testing, with the teams paying for their players’ tests.

Also, teams will shoulder hospital expenses if any of their players test positive for the virus.

How will training look like

Teams will practice in batches, with each session limited to just 6 persons on the court – 4 players, 1 coach or 1 trainer, and 1 safety officer.

Scrimmages are still not allowed, but Marcial said the PBA will once again reach out to the IATF in August to ask permission for teams to eventually hold games during practices.

Teams will be required to sanitize their training facilities regularly and will need to issue certification that their disinfection is at par with hospital standards.

Meanwhile, players and safety officers who will violate training protocols will be slapped with a hefty P20,000 fine.

The fine will increase for every violation committed.

“Our baby steps in practices are huge for the league. We will see if there are players who will test positive or if the players will follow the protocols,” Marcial said.

If a player tests positive, only his training batch will be affected.

“Practices will continue if only Batch 1 has a positive case,” Marcial said. “But if all batches have positive cases, we will stop.” –

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.