SPORTING CHANCEJoaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) – October 27, 2020 – 12:00am

Alaska governor Richard (Dicky) Bachmann has attended every Aces game so far at the Angeles University Foundation gym and is the only PBA Board member to avail of the special “watch-and-go” privilege allowed by the Clark Development Corp. (CDC) and Department of Health. The privilege also extends to PBA team owners.

While the privilege is available, it comes with heavy restrictions and conditions. The gym is connected to the Mimosa Leisure Estate bubble via a “virtual” tunnel with players, officials and staff billeted at the Quest Hotel traversing the 10-minute distance in buses on a point-to-point basis. All hotel employees and bus drivers are subject to the same safety/health protocols as everyone in the PBA contingent of about 350. They, too, aren’t permitted to leave the bubble and if they do, they won’t be able to return.

PBA deputy commissioner Eric Castro said the “watch-and-go” privilege for governors and team owners is strictly limited to the gym with no access to the hotel. In fact, they’re not even allowed to enter the lockerrooms or interact with players, coaches and officials in the gym. They enter and leave the premises through a designated gateway. And they sit in a specific area isolated by an acrylic/fiber glass barrier. That’s not all. Every visitor is required to present a negative swab test result two days before entering the gym.

“When we submitted our protocols to IATF and CDC, under audiences, the only ones outside the PBA bubble allowed to watch the games are the governors and team owners,” said Castro. “Protocols require them to have the StaySafe app installed on their phones which monitors their health and whereabouts. They have a designated entrance and exit. They are also seated within an area that is separated by an acylic/fiber glass barrier from the rest of those who are inside the gym.”

Castro said they’re not allowed to approach and talk to their team or anyone inside the gym. “They’re also prohibited from going to the team’s dugouts,” he added. “It’s really a watch-and-go visit which has been approved by CDC, DOH under strict protocols.”

Bachmann, a motorcycle enthusiast, said he hasn’t gone to the gym on a bike because it’s been raining. “I haven’t missed any (Alaska) game yet,” he said. “I submit my swab test results to Commissioner Willie (Marcial) and Eric then watch the game and go home. If the game is at 6:45 p.m., I usually leave Manila at 2:30 p.m. and take my time going to the venue. I was supposed to join the team in the bubble but gave up my slot so another utility staff could go and my room could be used for the players’ rehab area.” Bachmann said Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu and Aces legend Sean Chambers, both in the US, watch all the Aces games through a link he sends to them.

Alaska plays Terrafirma at 4 p.m. today with Bachmann expected to make another trip to the gym. The Aces started the conference on the wrong foot, dropping two in a row then recovered to win three straight before bowing to San Miguel Beer last Saturday.

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