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IATF grants PBA provisional license to hold Clark bubble

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It’s all systems go now for the PBA as the league has been granted provisional approval by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to hold its bubble in Clark, Pampanga for the resumption of Season 45.

The league made the announcement Thursday in an online press conference graced by PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas and Commissioner Willie Marcial, Bases Conversion and Development Authority chief Vince Dizon, and Clark Development Corp. President Noel Manankil — all beaming with pride now that the league can finally have the ball rolling for its pandemic-delayed season.

“Nagpapasalamat po tayo na nagbigay sila ng provisional approval for us to begin the preparations for the PBA bubble,” said Dizon, also the National Action Plan Against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer

“We are ready, the players are ready to go, and it’s all now in the hands of the Commissioner to see this executed to perfection,” said Vargas, himself the one who batted for the league to set up its own bubble for Season 45.

With this development, the league will now push through with its plans of heading into the bubble by next week. PBA teams will go to Clark in two batches, first on Sept. 28 and the other the next day.

All 12 ball clubs have undergone swab testing this Wednesday and Thursday ahead of their departure. All will undergo testing again once they enter the former US military base turned into an economic zone.

Once the results come out negative — results are expected within 24 hours — then teams can hold 5-on-5 scrimmages, which has also been approved by the IATF aside from holding the bubble per se.

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“Pinayagan na scrimmages, pinayagan na yung games. Tuloy-tuloy na tayo. Dire-diretso na tayo,” said Marcial.

“There will be a very strict protocol for the bubble,” said Dizon, also the Presidential Adviser on Flagship Programs. “All the activities of the PBA — the scrimmages, the practices, the games — will be held inside the bubble.”

The Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center will be the venue for the scrimmages and games, according to Marcial, although Dizon added that they are looking to set up temporary facilities for practices.

“We’re looking at options now. Kung makikita niyo sa NBA, ginagamit nila yung facilities ng hotels. We’re looking at several options in Mimosa to set up a temporary facility within the Mimosa compound for practice,” said Dizon.

The league will open shop on Oct. 11. The season restart was initially planned to be held on Oct. 9 but got adjusted due to the schedule of swab testing for teams. The season will end by the third week of December.

“Ito na po. Ito na po ang sinasabi namin na maglalaro na ang PBA, makikita niyo na po kami sa mga tahanan ninyo,” the third-year league chief said.

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