Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) – November 1, 2020 – 12:00am

SMART CLARK GIGA CITY, Pampanga, Philippines — Play on.

After taking a timeout from bubble hostilities to improve on its health protocols, the Philippine Basketball Association is resuming the Philippine Cup games on Tuesday, resolved more than ever to finish the season.

The pro league, which called a halt to the action last Friday, spent the next 24 hours incorporating the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and Department of Health (DOH) into the existing bubble protocols before setting a Nov. 3 restart.

“We made some adjustments in compliance with (new) protocols recommended by the IATF,” said commissioner Willie Marcial, who also announced that it’s a go for team practices beginning today.

In the revised guidelines, the Blackwater player who initially tested positive but yielded negative results in confirmatory antigen and RT-PCR testing must have completed 10-day isolation from the date of swabbing before the games could resume.

Moving forward, those who would test positive should complete a 14-day quarantine and testing before re-entering the bubble.

From hereon, there will be a DILG-recommended independent marshal who will “oversee and ensure the PBA’s compliance with health and safety protocols.”

As an added safety measure, the league and the Clark Development Corp. will arrange a separate quarantine facility inside the Clark Freeport Zone.

“The health and safety of all bubble participants are our top priority and so we need to strengthen our protocols in consultation with health experts,” said Marcial.

Asia’s first play-for-pay league insisted the bubble remains intact despite two incidents of “false positive” cases.

“There’s no breach yet in the bubble,” PBA medical committee head Dr. Raul Canlas said during The Chasedown sports show on One PH.

“There are some quirks. The test isn’t 100 percent so you’ll have inconclusive tests. But we tested them again and they came out negative, so, so far, 100 percent negative ang bubble. No breach as far as COVID-19 is concerned.”

Despite the challenges, the PBA is intent on bringing the P65-million endeavor to the finish line.

Marcial insisted he is for the completion of the bubble and shared his sentiment in a meeting with the coaches Friday night.

Canlas welcomed the four-day break.

“This recess actually helped us in restarting, redefining our protocols and streamlining everything,” he said. “It’s also good for the players because it affords them rest and recovery.”

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