By JONAS TERRADO
PBA teams, particularly those that didn’t see action or had their games postponed, are expected to hold their collective breaths and hope that the latest RT-PCR test won’t cause a disruption of their respective campaigns in the Philippine Cup.
All 12 ballclubs were slated to undergo their weekly swab tests yesterday, with the results playing a key factor in determining the set of games that will be held this week at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Eagerly awaiting those results is NorthPort, which failed to see action in the first week of the PBA restart due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said the Batang Pier could be cleared to resume practice which will likely lead to their hardcourt return, depending on the test results.
“Titignan muna namin yung resulta. Pag okay na yun, makakapagpractice na sila,” Marcial said.
The first week of the restart saw two games being postponed due to the league’s health and safety guidelines, namely the San Miguel Beer-Alaska match last Sept. 4 and the Barangay Ginebra-Meralco tiff a day later.
No details were given as to why these matches were put on hold but teams are required to take antigen tests on the day of their scheduled games as part of the league’s precautionary measures.
The tests will also be crucial if these teams can be given green light to play.
Current conditions have made the campaign of all teams difficult, which NLEX coach Yeng Guiao summarized during a recent postgame interview.
“You’re only as good as your last swab test,” said Guiao. “Pagka-sumabit ka sa swab test, ang hirap magbalik. Mawawala ka sa rhythm, yung practice mo maiistorbo, yung players mo magquaquarantine, yung games mo mare-reset.”
The pair of postponements has prompted observers to doubt if the semi-bubble concept being observed this conference can assure the safety of everyone.
Under the setup, teams will be limited to going from their hotels to their practice areas or playing venues before heading back to their hotels.
Former PBA commissioner Noli Eala said on social media that a full bubble should be the way to go for the league.
“I have always believed that it’s a full bubble or no games. No such thing as semi-bubble under (Philippine) conditions,” Eala said. “Mental health concerns are no better since I think it’s more taxing with (the) current set up that players have to fend for themselves lest they are penalized for it.”
Marcial, however, explained that a bubble would cost a fortune for the PBA since it spent at least P60 million in staging last year’s setup in Angeles City, Pampanga.