THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) tournament “bubble” was hit by another suspected coronavirus case just as the league said the first reported case turned out to be negative.

In a short-noticed online press conference on Sunday, the league confirmed that another member of the PBA family inside the bubble in Clark City in Angeles, Pampanga — this time a player of the Blackwater Elite team — tested positive for the coronavirus and is now in the Athlete’s Village quarantine facility in Tarlac for observation.

The player, whose identity was not disclosed, is the second suspected case following that of a referee reported last week.

The PBA, however, shared that the referee turned out to be negative after undergoing antigen testing and concomitant reverse transcription polymerase reaction (RT-PCR) testing to confirm the previous result.

As part of league protocols though, the referee will not be allowed back to the bubble just yet and will finish the required quarantine period.

The Blackwater player, the PBA said, was extracted from his room at the Quest Plus Hotel inside Mimosa early morning on Sunday after his swab result came out positive.

He was set for antigen and RT-PCR testing later yesterday to ascertain the initial positive result.

While awaiting the results, the entire Blackwater team was put in isolation as well as those considered as close contacts of the player, including the Elite’s last opponents on Thursday, the TNT Tropang Giga.

They will be tested in the coming day pending the results of the tests of the new suspected case.

As an offshoot of the development, Blackwater’s game versus the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters scheduled for 4 p.m. on Sunday was postponed, but the “Manila Clasico” main game at 6:45 p.m. between the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok was set to proceed as of this writing.

The league said games of Blackwater and TNT are set to be affected and rescheduled, giving rise to more triple-header playdates down the line.

PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial moved to assure that everything is still under control in the bubble.

“The bubble has not burst. There is nothing to worry about. We are doing everything we can to address the situation,” he said.

But the PBA chief said they will now be stricter on the protocols to better guard against the coronavirus just as he enjoined all the participants to do their part in preserving the integrity of the bubble they long worked hard for to happen.

For Dr. Jose Canlas, PBA medical consultant, the incidents of coronavirus are “to be expected” but that they are on top of things.

“Everything’s working. The incidents right now are in a way bound to happen. I want to assure everybody that it is safe inside the bubble and we’re constantly trying to improve our methods,” he said.

Secretary Vince Dizon, Bases Conversion Development Authority president and CEO and Deputy Chief Implementer of the Government’s Response against COVID-19, as well as Maria Clemencita Dobles M.D., manager, Health and Sanitation Department Clark Development Corporation, joined Messrs. Marcial and Canlas in the press conference.

The PBA reopened its coronavirus pandemic-hit season on Oct. 11 after getting government nod under a bubble setup in Clark City, where all the participants are holed up for the duration of the tournament, lasting at least two months. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo