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BCDA assures safe environment for PBA bubble in Clark

The basketball court inside the Angeles University Foundation that will be used for the PBA restart. ESPN5

Planners of the PBA bubble believe they will get an approval from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as long as the league proves it is able to provide a safe environment for the 2020 season restart.

Vince Dizon, the Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) president said Monday on Sports Page that well-placed protocols could pave the way for the planned Oct. 9 reopening of the suspended Philippine Cup in Clark, Pampanga.

"Naniniwala naman po kami na kung in place naman po ang ating mga protocols at masisigurado natin na talagang very safe ang ating gagawin tulad ng ginagawa nila sa NBA (bubble) sa Disney World, tingin ko naman po magiging open ang ating IATF at gobyerno para dito," he said.

Chairman Ricky Vargas last week said that the PBA has already submitted separate letters to the IATF requesting a green light for inter-team scrimmages and for the bubble itself next month.

While the league awaits an official reply from the task force, Dizon said the PBA has been continuously sorting out the details of the bubble with the BCDA and the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) as soon as the announcement was made last Thursday.

On top of their agenda is the testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which will be shouldered by CDC. Clark notably boasts its own molecular laboratory and a very serviceable hospital in The Medical City.

"Sasagutin na po ng Clark Development Corporation ang testing ng lahat ng ating mga players, coaches, staff at lahat ng mai-involve sa bubble. Kami na rin po ang tutulong sa kanila through the help of our health experts para gumawa ng testing protocols," said Dizon. "Lahat po 'yan ay nasa control ng national government through the Clark Development Corporation at ng BCDA. Maganda po ang magiging partnership."

Commissioner Willie Marcial, who graded the PBA's chances of kickstarting the season amid the coronavirus pandemic at "seven to nine", said tests will be done before traveling to Pampanga and upon entering the bubble in Quest Hotel.

"Sa September 23, swab testing sila. Pagdating sa 26, antigen test. Swab na naman 'yon. Pagkatapos noon, protocols ng DOH o kaya ng Task Force, gagawin namin 'yon," he said.

The safety that the bubble will offer isn't limited to the hotel grounds, of course, as Dizon said the games venue at Angeles University Foundation (AUF), which is a 16-minute ride away from Quest, will also be protected.

"Hindi lang po ang Clark, pati ang Quest ilalagay natin sa bubble. Lahat ng venues for practice and the games itself, lahat po 'yan naka-bubble. Ibig sabihin, lahat po ng papasok diyan at papasok diyan ay kailangan strict. Ang protocols for testing and checking for all clinical symptoms, gagawin po 'yan ng ating health experts at ating mga doctor," he said.

"'Yung ating mga buses ay provided ng Clark. Lahat po 'yan ay sanitized and disinfected. May escorts po tayo from Clark hanggang sa city of Angeles. Tuloy-tuloy po 'yan," Dizon added.

The entire PBA delegation's safety inside the Mimosa compound will be ensured by Clark's own security task force, Dizon said.

"Ang kinaganda po kasi ng Clark," he explained, "ay very secure po 'yan. It's an entirely gated area. Very, very strict po tayo sa loob ng Mimosa. Apart from 'yung Clark na gated, 'yung Mimosa itself is gated. Lahat po ng entrances and exits ng Mimosa, isasara po natin 'yan during the bubble. And the PBA will have exclusive use of the Quest Hotel."

In terms of non-basketball facilities, Dizon said Clark has all PBA players and personnel covered with six golf courses, an ATV course, and a water park subject to IATF approval.

"Ang ating direksyon ay paunti-unti na kailangan na nating buksan ang ekonomiya. And naisip po namin, 'What better symbol of trying to into into the new normal than restarting the most important pastime in the Philippines?'" said Dizon. "Gusto talaga namin makatulong hindi lamang sa PBA kundi sa milyon-milyong PBA fans para mabigyan naman natin sila ng kasiyahan kahit na lahat tayo medyo hirap na hirap sa COVID-19."