By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THE Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) push to resume its currently suspended season has kicked into a higher gear with member teams now in Clark City in Angeles, Pampanga, where they will play in a “bubble” tournament.

For people who helped facilitate in the PBA’s return at the former United States military base, the development is promising, seeing how it could provide hope amid the uncertainty and challenges brought about the coronavirus pandemic.

“It means so much not just to Clark, but for the entire country. It’s important that we’re able to give people hope that this pandemic, while very, very difficult and challenging, has its end. And hopefully, we can show [through the PBA] that we can begin holding sporting events as long as it is safe and secure and healthy for the participants,” said Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and CEO Vince Dizon in a press conference held at the Quest Hotel in Mimosa in Clark on Tuesday.

“This could be a symbol that things could only go well after this pandemic and that we could get back to the things we used to do,” he added.

Mr. Dizon was joined in the press conference by Clark Development Corp. President Noel Manankil, who underscored that the PBA bubble being held inside Clark would be a boon to tourism and locators there.

“We all know that the most affected sector is really tourism so this is a first step into trying to help the tourism locator especially in Clark going towards a new normal for everybody,” said Mr. Manankil.

The PBA gets back into action since suspending its season in March because of the pandemic after receiving provisional approval from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) last week.

All the 12 teams are now in the bubble in Clark, where they will be holed up for the duration of the Philippine Cup lasting at least two months, along with the staff and officials of the league.

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.

As hosts of the PBA bubble, Messrs. Dizon and Manankil said their agencies are committed to ensuring the safety of all participants and that they are one with the league in hoping for a successful return.

“This bubble has been specifically designed to ensure the safety and health of the players who will be inside the bubble,” said Mr. Dizon.

Adding, “We’ve used the protocols of successful sports bubbles in the world like the NBA, NHL (National Hockey League) and MLS (Major League Soccer) in the US and we will ensure the integrity of the bubble not only as the players enter, but throughout the next three months the PBA will be playing here.”

Upon the teams’ arrival, they underwent entry swabbing procedure and were to await the results.

When the results are negative, they could then proceed doing five-on-five scrimmages as part of their preparations for the season restart on Oct. 11.