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Clark hosts PBA bubble



RICKY Vargas is ready to roll out the resumption of the PBA 45th season. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PBA

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will restart its 45th season at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga pending the green light from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

PBA chairman Ricky Vargas yesterday said the PBA board of governors approved the resumption of the aborted season in which players, coaches, team officials, media and league personnel would be housed in the former American military base with strict health and safety protocols.

Vargas said all 12 teams would be checking in on 26 September while scrimmages kick off the following day.

The season would unwrap on 9 October and would run for two months using single-round eliminations with the top four advancing to the best-of-five semifinals and, eventually, the best-of-seven finals showdown.

Games would be double-header seven days a week with a total of 48 matches.

Angeles University Foundation will be the competition venue with lodging set at Quest Hotel and COVID-19 testing in Clark.

The league will send an inspection team next week.

“We looked at everyone who wanted to host the games, but we want a venue that has complete offering, particularly the safety standpoint,” said Vargas, adding that the league has enough financial muscle to pull off the bubble concept.

“Also we need a venue that can take care of the mental health of the players.”

Vargas said they already reached out to Bases Conversation and Development Authority president Vince Dizon to seek his blessing.

“We already talked to Vince Dizon before this press conference and we’re good to go. They have strict policies and protocols and made sure that we will have a virus-free season,” Vargas added, raising the idea of putting in virtual fans, similar to what the National Basketball Association is doing in its bubble setup in Walt Disney Resort in Miami, Florida.

Still, it all depends on the IATF.

In a statement over the weekend, IATF vice chairman Karlo Nograles said the government is not yet confident to give the go-signal to contact sports like basketball, football and boxing due to the rising cases of the coronavirus in the country.