By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is set to resume its currently suspended season in two weeks’ time and it is making sure it will be a return worth the while of all stakeholders, particularly its fans.

Given a provisional approval to resume its coronavirus pandemic-hit year last week, the league said it is grateful for the opportunity given to it to get back in the swing of things and provide sports entertainment after some time.

“We’re happy that we’ll be able to bring back basketball, which will really be for the fans. That’s our motivation from the start,” said PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas after they received the nod to resume in a “bubble” setting to be held at Clark City in Angeles, Pampanga.

The league has been very proactive in its push to resume, coordinating with pertinent government agencies every step of the way to make sure that it is heading to the right direction.

The road to be where it is now had some bumps, but the league stayed the course and remained undeterred, and now it is set to fire off anew come Oct. 11.

Given the trek back they had, Mr. Vargas said they are doing everything they can to give the best offering possible.

They have talked to the players, who, in turn, affirmed their commitment to the return, as well to their official broadcaster, TV5.

“When we talked to the players, we all agreed it’s about time to give back something to the fans. When we talked to TV5, we said let’s make it truly a coverage that will be very entertaining for the fans to watch,” said Mr. Vargas.

Adding, “We’ve done everything we can and we’re hoping to be successful moving forward. Let’s all pray for the return’s success.”

The league suspended its Season 45 in March when the pandemic started taking further root in the country.

Only one game was played in the season-opening Philippine Cup when the decision to suspend was made, that between defending champions San Miguel Beermen and Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, which the former won (94-78).

When the Philippine Cup returns next month, it will be held under a bubble setup, similar to that employed in the National Basketball Association where players, coaches, and staff of the teams and the league will be holed up in one location for the duration of the tournament and will be shuttled to and from the hotel and the playing venue.

All the games will be played at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center while Quest Hotel will serve as the home of those who will participate.

It will be a compressed tournament for the PBA, lasting only two months and will feature two games daily. And the league expects to crown a champion by the second week of December.

Tournament format will see a single round-robin elimination, with the top eight teams advancing to the next round. The top four seeds will have a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. The semifinals will be a best-of-five affair, and the finals best-of-seven.

Meanwhile, teams started going to Clark City on Monday to pick up their preparations some more.

Magnolia, the Meralco Bolts, Phoenix Fuel Masters, Terra Firma Dyip, and TNT KaTropa were the first to go with the remaining teams, namely, San Miguel, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, Alaska Aces, Blackwater Bossing, Northport Batang Pier, NLEX Road Warriors, and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters set to leave Tuesday.

The teams underwent swab testing this week and will go through the same upon entry to the bubble, with the result expected to come within 24 hours.

Once results come out and turn out negative, the squads will then be allowed to conduct 5-on-5 scrimmages.

In the lead-up, teams were only allowed to do modified workouts, with only four players on the court per batch in accordance with protocols of the league and the government to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.