By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

OFFICIALLY back to doing activities after being inactive for nearly half a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) said it would strictly monitor the teams to make sure that the league’s push to resume is a success.

On Tuesday PBA teams began doing modified team workouts which were done under the guidance of health and safety protocols crafted by the league and approved by authorities tasked to lead the country’s fight against the spread of the coronavirus.

It marked the first time that the teams gathered as a “collective” for on-court training since the PBA decided to suspend its Season 45 on March 11.

Included in the protocols set for the teams are for players and team personnel to undergo a series of swab testings; players are expected to abide by the “closed circuit” method that has them confining their travel as much as possible to home-to-practice facility and back; and during workouts, to be overseen by a designated health officer, players must observe proper distancing (only four players at a time) and hygiene.

Also, facilities to be used by the teams must undergo hospital standard disinfection and thoroughly sanitized after being used.

Teams that began their workouts on Tuesday were the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, Blackwater Bossing, Alaska Aces, and San Miguel Beermen.

The TNT KaTropa, meanwhile, were set to drive to INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, on Wednesday where they would be holed up as a team for three weeks to train.

The rest of the field are expected to begin their team workouts anytime this week.

For PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial, to see the league back in the swing of things is a welcome development, especially since the resumption of activities took a while to happen because of the strict requirements needed to get approval and the varying quarantine conditions.

He was quick to say, however, that getting some activities in was just the start of a long process that the league has to go through if an October restart of Season 45 is to happen.

In relation to this, Mr. Marcial said the league would do everything it can to have the process back as seamless as possible.

“We will be having surprise inspections. We already have teams that will be going around, observing and taking videos of the team workouts. We also have player logs. And if we see any violation they will be fined accordingly,” said Mr. Marcial at the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday where he was a guest along with PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas.

A medical committee, led by renowned physician Dr. Raul Canlas, has also been set up to function as the center of information when it comes to the health and wellness of the players.

Also at the forum, Mr. Marcial shared that the league is looking at mounting a bubble like that done in the National Basketball Association to host all the matches if ever PBA Season 45 resumes.

The NBA resumed on July 31 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, after suspending its own season for four months and is proving to be successful as not one case of the coronavirus has been reported to date.

For the planned PBA bubble, among the places being considered for it are the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Clark in Pampanga and the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna.

Also being considered as locations are Batangas and Subic, Zambales.

“We have been talking to different people for possible bubble locations. I will lay everything to the board so we can decide which is the best option to take,” Mr. Marcial said.