Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) – November 1, 2020 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said yesterday the postponement of games is no cause for alarm, explaining that the temporary ceasefire was meant to sort out details of protocols with the Department of Health (DOH) and Clark Development Corp. (CDC). He reiterated that everyone in the Clark bubble is safe and whoever came out positive initially has been declared negative in confirmatory antigen and swab tests.

Marcial said there is no need to stop deliveries at the Quest Hotel where the PBA delegation of over 300 is billeted for the duration of the 45th season restart. “Everything that is delivered is disinfected, boxes are opened and contents are sanitized before they are sent to the rooms,” he said. “Sasabihin ko muli, walang virus sa bubble. Halos isang buwan na kami sa loob. Paano makakapasok ang virus? Ang higpit ng protocols. I can confirm that we are all negative. Ang buong staff ng Quest Hotel, pati security guard at bus drivers, tested negative. Like everyone else in the bubble, hindi sila pwedeng umalis at kung umalis man, hindi na sila pwedeng makabalik.”

Marcial also dismissed notions that conditions in the Angeles University Foundation gym, where the games are played, are not as strict as in the Quest Hotel. “Lahat ng 15 empleyado ng AUF tested negative,” he said. “Nagdagdag ng security ang CDC sa labas ng gym at nag-reinforce sila ng railing kaya malayo na mga fans sa players napapasok sa bus galing sa loob o lalabas sa bus papasok sa loob. Wala tayong ikinatatakot.”

Last Friday night, Marcial met with all 12 PBA head coaches at the Armstrong Room of the Quest Hotel to explain the postponement. Also present were Meralco team manager Paolo Trillo, Phoenix team manager Paolo Bugia, Blackwater team manager Jacob Munez, TNT team manager Gabby Cui, Rain or Shine team manager/assistant coach Jireh Ibañes and Ginebra assistant coach Richard del Rosario. “Ginamit namin yung Armstrong Room kasi malaki para may social distancing,” he said. “Assured ko sila na lahat kami negative at sa laban na ito, hindi ako susuko. We also had a zoom conference call with chairman Ricky (Vargas), vice chairman Bobby (Rosales) and (medical consultant) Dr. (Jose Raul) Canlas. Pinagusapan namin kung kelan malamang papayagan tayo magumpisa maglaro uli. Sabi ko, don’t be alarmed, intact ang bubble.”

Marcial said he doesn’t count those who were “false positives” as virus cases. The inconclusive testing was conducted at the Jose B. Lingad Hospital in San Fernando but subsequent results of antigen and repeat swab turned out negative by the Red Cross. It’s not certain if the San Fernando regional hospital will continue to be used for testing by CDC.

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