Freeman Cebu Sports

Battle at The Bubble

EVERY POUND COUNTS - Allan 'Coach A' Choachuy - The Freeman

The NBA is back! The game we love so much is back. Despite the clear and constant threat this pandemic brings, the NBA will resume on July 30 with 22 teams under stringent health and safety protocols inside the “Bubble” at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Sadly, there will be no live audience for the remainder of the season.

Tuneup games have now started until July 28. Then the lower seeded teams will fight it out for the  remaining playoff spots leading to the first round starting August 17.

For its restart, the league has labored hard to establish a rigorous program to prevent the risk related to COVID-19. That included regular testing and strict safety practices. Media has gone through a 7-day quarantine before entering the bubble. Some carry on gadgets that set off an alarm if they are within 6 feet of anyone. The players, on the other hand, also has some safety shields.They have to undergo checking and logging their Oximeter reading everyday. They have to wear bracelet just to go in and out of any facility. Players were quarantined for at least four days before being allowed entry to the bubble. Players that exit the bubble are required to be tested everyday and upon entering, they will be subjected to a four-day quarantine.

Now back to the upcoming NBA action. Who are the teams to watch for? For the West, it will be a dogfight between the heavily favorite LA Lakers and their rival neighbors LA Clippers. But don’t count out the Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks, and Houston Rockets. Any of these teams are tough to beat but my crystal ball shows an all-LA West finals showdown topbilled by the much anticipated LeBron James vs Kwahi Leonard battle. LeBron is playing point guard for the Lakers but I would prefer him to shoot instead of passing the ball. James is unstoppable both inside and outside but by having him as point guard, he will have to dribble and pass too much.

I would prefer James to be the recipient of a pass around the perimeter and be a triple threat nearer to the basket. His being a playmaker though may be a decoy or a strategy to preserve his legs going to the 2nd half of the game. Lets wait and see for ourselves

Over in the Eastern Conference, it will be a four-cornered battle among the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. My gut feel points to a repeat of last year’s East Finals between the Bucks and the Raptors. Giannis Antetokounmpo has some unfinished business vs the Raptors, who was eliminated by the then Leonard-led Raptors. It will be an exciting match-up to watch.

The biggest difference now is that there’s no homecourt advantage for the top seeds. Inside the bubble, the players are focused on training, eat and sleep. It’s like a high-end prison where the superstars are allowed to roam around, go fishing or play golf. The main factor is reliability and the survival of the fittest.  The team that will remain injury or COVID-19 free will make it through the finals.

Neverthless, the return of the NBA will give some positivism and purpose to everyone who loves basketball.

The millionaire superstars are not immune to the deadly virus. They are still in danger of getting infected despite being holed up in an ultra secured area. But the NBA’s return sends us a strong message that we shall go back to what we used to do and learn the new normal of surviving. With extra care and vigilance, of course, as we have to live with this coronavirus until such time the vaccine will be developed.

SIDELINE: Manuel Recla Jr., popularly known as Maui, succumbed to Covid-19 last Wednesday. He has captured our hearts by being present in almost all our running and triathlon events, gladly taking our photos at the finish line, I have known Maui for the past 8 years and never have I meet someone as passionate as him. Aside from photography, Maui was part of our METAFIT Tri Team that has conquered a good number of 21km half marathons and the 70.3 Ironman. It is time to give back to Maui. For those who want to help, donate or support his bereaved family, please deposit directly to the bank accounts of RAQUEL RECLA (Maui’s wife): BDO 006141075508 or BPI 9090-0039-73. You may also reach  Raquel at 0932-3678702.


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