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PBA now looking at bubble setup for Season 45 resumption

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The Philippine Basketball Association is seriously looking to set up its own bubble in the hopes of resuming its 45th season, which has been suspended since March due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

PBA chairman Ricky Vargas himself said as much in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum webcast on Tuesday, where he and Commissioner Willie Marcial served as guests.

“My own feeling as part of the board as chairman is we do not have a choice. May model na eh. The model is the NBA,” Vargas said in the weekly session powered by SMART and presented by San Miguel Corp. Go For Gold, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, MILO, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), with Upstream Media as webcast partner.

“And we should just go ahead and move forward and look forward to the time na maglalaro tayo — whether it’s an NBA way or a more innovative way,” added Vargas, who’s also the TNT KaTropa governor.

The league looks to emulate the successful bubble set-up of the NBA in the ESPN World Wide of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where it has resumed its season.

Given that, the league is now studying several locations for its own bubble such as the SMART Araneta Coliseum where it has the nearby Novotel; Clark, Pampanga; the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Laguna; and Batangas.

The INSPIRE Academy, which is housed in National University-Laguna, will serve as the bubble of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 in September. And it will also be the home of the KaTropa in the next 20 days.

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“We were talking about several options in terms of following the bubble. The question is, meron bang lugar sa Pilipinas na puwede tayong mag-bubble? Kasi wala namang Disneyland,” said Vargas.

“So several options came in. ‘Yung INSPIRE sa NU, sa Calamba, to looking into Araneta ‘di ba kasi may mga hotels naman beside that, to even looking as far as Clark,” added the amiable executive.

Vargas said that the whole board feels excited about the bubble concept, although they also have to consider the financial aspect of hosting. The NBA reportedly dished out $ 180 million for its resumption in Florida.

“We will have to take a look kung pwedeng sagutin ng PBA ‘yan or will it be shared with the teams. Those are the important issues that have to be discussed in the board,” said Vargas.

Marcial, meanwhile, has already given deputy commissioner Eric Castro the task to look into the different locations before presenting their findings to the board on Thursday.

“Nagtanong na kami sa mga lugar tulad ng Batangas, Subic, Laguna, at Araneta,” he said.

“Ipe-present ko sa kanila, ilalatag namin sa kanila lahat-lahat, ta’s tignan namin pinakamagandang options.”

Hopes are high for the PBA’s resumption as pro sports have been allowed to train — under strict health protocols — following the signing of the joint administrative order by the Department of Health, the Games and Amusement Board, and the Philippine Sports Commission, which serves as the guidelines of all pro leagues for its return to practices.

In fact, almost all of the 12 PBA ball clubs — Ginebra, Rain or Shine, Alaska, Blackwater, and San Miguel — have begun their per-batch workouts this Tuesday, according to Marcial.

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