Last Wednesday, the PBA hugged headlines when it announced that one of its referees was suspected to have COVID-19, the first case to be reported inside the bubble at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.
Unfortunately, that first wasn’t the last.
On Sunday, the league, together with Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and Clark Development Corporation (CDC), revealed in an online press conference that a player has tested positive for the virus.
The league said that the referee was tested last Oct. 19 along with 27 others, whose results came out negative Tuesday night. But that ref was reportedly among those who officiated the Blackwater-Alaska game that same night.
The ref was sent to the Athletes’ Village in Capas, Tarlac for quarantine. The other refs who came in close contact with the game official have been put into isolation, too, reducing the active referees in the bubble to just seven.
No games, though, were cancelled. And the teams that got tested even played on as scheduled later on that day. Blackwater took on TNT Tropang Giga, while Alaska went face-to-face with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
The PBA continued to tread on, and Alaska played its second game since being tested Saturday night as it took on reigning, five-time Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beer, where they lost narrowly.
But on that same night, the league would receive another bad news — which it would announce the next day. A player tested positive for the virus, and has since been extracted from the bubble for quarantine.
That player is from Blackwater, said the league, so BCDA chief Vince Dizon recommended for the entire team to be put under isolation. And with that, the Elite’s 4:00 p.m. game versus Rain or Shine Sunday has been postponed.
The Ginebra-Magnolia match, though, will push through at 6:45 p.m.
The referee that was suspected to have the dreaded virus, on the other hand, has been declared a false positive case as the results of the antigen and RT-PCR tests came out negative.
Also in isolation is TNT since it played Blackwater last Thursday. In a report by Denison Dalupang of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Tropang Giga even held their practice at the AUF Sports and Cultural Center Sunday morning.
This development has overshadowed the reinstatement of Calvin Abueva, whose 15-month suspension has finally been lifted by Commissioner Willie Marcial, making him eligible to play in Phoenix’s clash versus NLEX Monday.
Now, it remains to be seen how all this will affect the league moving forward. The PBA is about halfway through the elimination round, with the Tropang Giga sitting atop the standings with an unblemished 5-0 card.