The Alaska Aces will head to the PBA bubble conference in Clark without longtime center Sonny Thoss, head coach Jeff Cariaso confirmed on Friday.
Cariaso said the veteran big man had made it clear weeks earlier that he would not participate in the bubble if a Covid-19 vaccine is not yet available.
"Sonny Thoss decided even before the small group workouts that he will not join unless there's a vaccine available," said Cariaso. "So now that we will push through with a semi-bubble, his stand is the same. So Sonny will not be joining us in the bubble."
The four-time champion also did not join the team's group workouts in the build-up for the proposed resumption of the league that was cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic. Cariaso did not immediately respond to a query about a possible replacement for Thoss. Each team is allowed to submit a 15-man lineup for the bubble tournament.
Cariaso also clarified reports that Thoss had reportedly called it a career, saying he has "not officially retired yet." According to the coach, the 12-time all-star was only relegated to the free agent list because his contract expired at the end of August.
"Sonny Thoss has not officially retired yet," he told ESPN5.com in a text message.
On Thursday, the Inter-Agency Task Force gave the PBA the green light to resume play in Clark, Pampanga on October 11. Teams will enter the bubble either on Sept. 28 or 29, and may resume scrimmages after completing their quarantine at the Quest Hotel.
Thoss is the second veteran to opt out of the bubble after Larry Fonacier informed the NLEX Road Warriors on Monday that he would not be joining the team due to personal reasons.