Back to room confinement for over 24hrs
John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2020 - 12:00am

Inside the bubble

CLARK, Pampanga, Philippines — On a wet, cold Thursday morning here, a deafening silence crawled over the once busy PBA bubble in Quest Hotel.

Some coaches should have been jogging or running first thing in the day like they have been used to in the past three weeks while players were supposed to be sweating it out in the gym or having aqua training in the pool.

Yet along with the rest of the 350-strong PBA delegation, they were all stuck in their rooms just like in their first two days upon bubble entry.

The unfamiliar atmosphere was carried out from Wednesday noon when the news of a suspected COVID-19 case involving a referee rocked the bubble, paralyzing the movement of everybody for more than 24 hours.

And though the case has been considered as a probable false positive, it suddenly halted the electrifying mood in the Philippine Cup reboot.

* * *?

But most, if not all, remain positive despite the Thursday case.

“I’m not really worried. I’m not in a state of panic. These people know what they are doing and they can handle the situation,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, expressing full trust on the effort being done by the PBA, Bases and Conversion Development Authority and Clark Development Corp.

“Everything is fine for our team. Commissioner Willie Marcial and the protocol team are doing all they can. For us, nothing has changed other than having a strong reminder to follow all safety protocols,” said TNT consultant Mark Dickel.

Ginebra mentor Tim Cone had the same sentiment but called on everyone to be vigilant: “It’s really been the first day but so far, no complaints from the players. We all want to be safe here in the bubble so we all understand the lengths the league will go to keep it that way. We’ll see how things develop in the next few days.”

* * *

But there are some concerns, especially from Alaska and Blackwater teams that took another test for assurance and precautionary measures, being the last squads to play Tuesday night before the news of a suspected COVID-19 case broke out.

“We’re doing okay but we’re worried. Lots of my players were concerned because we are all exposed. We’re hoping that we all level up on practicing the safety protocols. The safety of everyone in the PBA bubble is still the No. 1 priority,” said Aces coach Jeff Cariaso.

Both the Aces and the Elite, along with 10 other PBA teams, tested negative earlier this week in the second round of testing as part of the mandatory protocol every two weeks since their arrival last month.

***

Protocols may have not been breached and the integrity of the bubble may have kept uncompromised but Commissioner Willie Marcial is not to take chances against any added crack in the bubble.

“Wake-up call sa atin ito na huwag tayong masyado mag-relax. Nasa bubble tayo pero ganoon pa rin yung protocols. Talagang kailangan mag-ingat. Ngayon, ako na mismo nagpo-police,” he said.

The PBA, CDC and BCDA are working round the clock to protect the bubble, explaining their immediate action of isolating within the 12 hours the first and second layer contacts consisting of eight referees, who are now under strict isolation and observation.

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