PBA still unsure of 'bubble' format in 46th season

Luisa Morales - Philstar.com
PBA still unsure of 'bubble' format in 46th season
Willie Marcial
PBA images

MANILA, Philippines — The discussion is still open on what type of "bubble" the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will employ once it kicks off its 46th season by April this year.

A full bubble was staged last year in Clark City, Pampanga, where they were able to stage a single conference in the setup. But the financial ramifications of staging another bubble as stringent as the last may make it more difficult.

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial opened up about how the league barely broke even after the expenses of last year's bubble.

"Medyo tumabla tayo nang konti... Napantayan natin kahit nang konti. Hindi malayo 'yung cost natin, pero ang bigat pa rin [sa bulsa]," said Marcial on an interview aired Saturday on Noli Eala's Power & Play.

The league is therefore exploring other options, including a "closed-circuit" bubble.

"Titignan natin sa April kung anong klaseng bubble... Pwede ba 'yung closed-circuit bubble? Or 'yung bubble na ginawa [na] natin?," said Marcial.

The closed-circuit bubble would mean that players will have a strict home-venue-home setup where they will avoid any unnecessary travels outside of PBA games.

A closed-circuit bubble would do away with players needing to be away from their families during the season.

This was also proposed by Barangay Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua Saturday.

"I hope next time, if we do a bubble, we'll do it at Araneta but with everyone allowed to go home. Or if that's not possible, we can use the hotels nearby," Chua said on Cignal's The Chasedown program.

Marcial, however, said that there would be numerous factors at play on how the league will ultimately decide on the season format.

"Anong ekonomiya natin [that time]? Anong papayagan ng gobyerno para makapaglaro ng PBA? So, as of now, hindi ko pa masagot," Marcial said of any finality on a setup for the season.

"Siguro by February, or by March, malalaman na natin," he said.

Clark City, Pampanga, meanwhile, will host another full bubble in the FIBA 2021 Asia Cup qualifiers third window come February.

Whether the PBA will return for its 46th season in the same venue or not is yet to be seen.

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