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PBA selects Clark as Bubble venue, games to start on October 9


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The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has chosen Clark, Pampanga as the venue of its bubble for the restart of the league's 45th season.

PBA Board of Governors Chair Ricky Vargas made the announcement on Thursday.

"We have all the protocols in place and all we're waiting for is the IATF approval for us to be able to do this," he said in a virtual press conference. 

Vargas said they chose Clark as the venue because of its facilities such as the courts, hotels, and hospitals.

"They have their own security, police force, they have their own protocols to ensure that the place is COVID-free," he said.

The league plans to do scrimmages in the PBA bubble starting September 27, and the games on October 9.

Games will be held seven days a week, with two games per day. The double header will start at 4 pm, with an hour of break after the first game to sanitize the venue.

The tournament format will be single round robin, with the top four teams getting a twice-to-beat advantage for the quarterfinals. The semis will be a best-of-five game series, with the Finals still best-of-seven.

San Miguel's win back in March against Magnolia is already counted.

Games will be held in the Angeles University Foundation gym, while the players will stay in Quest Hotel.

Health protocols, subject to IATF approval, will also be strictly implemented in the PBA campus. The league will also comply with the Department of Health's COVID-19 testing protocols.

"We have studied the protocol we will implement and we expect strict compliance within the bubble," said PBA Board Vice-chair Bobby Rosales.

A total of 25 people per team franchise, including players, will be allowed inside the bubble. Rosales said people who will enter the bubble will not be able to go outside anymore.

Should a person inside the bubble contract the coronavirus, PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial said that person will automatically be brought to the quarantine facility in Clark and contact tracing will be done.

The league will push through with games, as long as there will be six players in uniform on the bench.

Players who will sneak out of the bubble will pay a fine of P100,000 to the league and will be subject to a month-long suspension without pay. The player will also be suspended for five games at the start of the following season.

In terms of expenses, Vargas said the league has "enough cash flow" to spend for the bubble. However, he did not divulge how much it will cost.

Marcial said Bases and Conversion Development Authority chair Vince Dizon helped in making the bubble possible. 

"We're ready, the PBA is ready, all the teams are ready," Rosales said. —MGP, GMA News

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