Holed up inside bubble, PBA players also deal with emotions as they inevitably miss important occasions, family affairs in the outside world

CLARK, Pampanga – Twenty seven days into the PBA bubble, emotions are starting to run high on every delegate of the 350-strong entourage.

Real men cry, as they say. 

Professionals as they may be, hulking PBA players are no different.

The 2020 Philippine Cup restart is about to enter only its third week but players, coaches, and staff have been here at the Quest Hotel in the Mimosa Leisure Estate since September 26.

The piling days away from their families are beginning to take a toll on them and they don’t care showing their soft sides with tears, and hiccups, and sobs once in a while.  

Phoenix Super LPG coach Topex Robinson shed tears after dedicating their 91-84 comeback against Magnolia to “son” Calvin Abueva, who remains under indefinite suspension since 2019.

“It’s hard for a coach to always leave the gym or hotel knowing that one of your sons is not there with you in this battle,” said Robinson. 

“We just didn’t wanna give up. He doesn’t wanna give up. We always do it for Calvin. It’s really hard, especially in these times. But winning it for Calvin, it’s really big for us.”

Abueva, who’s with Phoenix inside the bubble, is still waiting for the PBA go-signal on his return after his professional license statement got reinstated by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

Though Robinson and Phoenix already long for Abueva’s comeback, he said that they respect and honor the PBA process before lifting his ban. 

[UPDATE: The PBA on Sunday announced it has lifted Abueva’s suspension]

Then there’s Barangay Ginebra guard Scottie Thompson, who could not mourn the passing of his “Lola” the other day.

“Sabi mo, aantayin mo ulit kami mag-champion bago ka pumikit,” said Thompson. “Bibigay ko yung best ko La, para sayo. Rest easy Lola, I love you so much.”

Expect Thompson, and the unbeaten Gin Kings at 4-0, to go all-out for that promised championship.

He goes on with that mission today, albeit without fans, against Magnolia in “Bubble Manila Clasico” knowing that his Lola up above will be watching as his no. 1 cheerleader.

Fuel Masters star Matthew Wright also cried after missing the special day of his son, Roman.

It’s one thing to miss some gatherings outside in the real world but it’s another to not be around for the very first birthday of your son while holed up inside the bubble.  

“I was really sad waking up knowing that. The first birthday is always very special and I hate to see that I cried just thinking about it,” he shared.

Last time, TNT Tropang Giga coach Bong Ravena and NLEX star guard Kiefer Ravena also missed sending off son and brother Thirdy to Japan for the start of his overseas career. 

Terrafirma guard Roosevelt Adams, too, wasn’t able to celebrate the first wedding anniversary with his wife earlier this month.

Until December, more stories alike would unravel as more tears would emerge here.

Contrary to outside talks, the bubble is more than just a world-class hotel full of enjoyable amenities. 

Behind every delicious meal, dart thrown, dive in the pool, swim, golf swing, a billiard ball pocketed into the rack, jog, run and every basketball shot in the ring are stories they tend to keep to themselves at midnight while drying their tears, after a short video call back home — until it bursts out without them knowing.

It is more than just a refuge from the pandemic. It is not an escape act.

This bubble is a Colosseum. 

Yes, only the gladiators survive. But behind every galea is a father, husband, brother, son, and grandson, too. 

They mourn, they cry. 

And they bleed once in a while – for only through that, they can fight and live.

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