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Blackwater player tests positive

Ian Suyu

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NEW CLARK CITY — A player from Blackwater has tested positive for COVID-19, throwing the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in an alarm on Sunday but the professional basketball said games will continue aside from the battle between Rain or Shine and Blackwater originally scheduled yesterday at 4 p.m.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said the player underwent RT-PCR swab testing alongside other members of the team last Thursday.

The player has also been brought to a facility at the New Clark City in neighboring Capas, Tarlac, and is scheduled to undergo rapid antigen testing and another set of swab testing as per PBA guidelines during this bubble setup.

Marcial also said that the entire Blackwater team and staff are already under isolation, forcing the postponement of the Elite’s scheduled game.

Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) president and CEO Vivencio “Vince” Dizon, who is also National Action Plan Against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer, dismissed speculations that the bubble, where the basketball games are being held under a sterilized environment, “has been breached.”

Test not foolproof
“In the health protocols, testing is just one component. There are layers of protocols, simply because the whole world knows there is no 100 percent (accurate) test for COVID-19. Meaning, it can yield false negative or false positive results depending on the circumstances,” Dizon explained.

“The protocols have been followed. We should understand that there is no perfect test, everyone can make a mistake,” he explained.

TNT Tropang Giga was also put under isolation as they were the last team the Elite came in contact with last Thursday.

“BCDA secretary Dizon has already instructed the entire team of Blackwater to undergo isolation, including their close contacts,” Marcial said.

“We are now putting up stricter measures, we don’t want to be very relaxed because we want to investigate the origin of the cases.”

Referee tests negative
However, other Blackwater players have yet to undergo similar procedure as experts deemed that it is still early before the virus can be detected.

“The other players, we cannot test them right now with RT-PCR because it is too early. But we will test them using antigen in the coming days,” said PBA medical consultant Dr. George Canlas.

Meanwhile, Canlas confirmed that the referee who was initially identified as the first case inside the bubble has already tested negative on his latest swab result.

The said referee, who was reported as the first COVID-19 case inside the bubble, will still spend his remaining quarantine period in Tarlac, until the PBA decides to take the game official back inside the bubble.

Despite the issues faced by the league, Dizon defended that the bubble is still safe, citing previous occurrences from other leagues abroad such as the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL) in the United States.

“The bubble hasn’t been breached. These have already happened in the NBA and NFL bubble, we are no different from those cases,” Dizon said.

“The index case (referee) proved to be negative. What’s more important is we have stricter protocols to address this issue.”

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