FOLLOWING a brief pause to its ongoing tournament to fine-tune health and safety protocols, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will resume action on Tuesday at the Angeles University Foundation in Pampanga.

Moved to suspend proceedings in the Philippine Cup beginning Oct. 30 on the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Technical Working Group and the Department of Health (DoH) Advisory Group of Experts to give time to craft new “bubble” protocols, the PBA on Saturday announced it was set to return and play.

The league reaffirmed its commitment to comply with the latest directives from the government so as to ensure the health and safety of the 350 participants in the PBA bubble at Clark City.

Among the recommendations of the IATF is the appointment of an independent marshall, who shall oversee and ensure compliance with health and safety protocols, as recommended by the Department of Interior Local Government; and for the league to have a separate temporary quarantine facility within the Clark Freeport Zone.

The IATF also addressed the concern over a player of the Blackwater team, who initially tested positive for the coronavirus but later yielded negative results in confirmatory antigen and reverse transcription polymerase reaction (RT-PCR) tests, in relation to the resumption of games.

The recommendation was for the league to complete first the 10-day isolation of the player from the date of swabbing before resuming the games and the completion of 14-day quarantine and testing before entering the bubble for all those who will test positive moving forward.

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 Philippine Cup.

The league’s government-approved return guidelines were put to a test recently as apart from the Blackwater player, a referee also initially tested positive for the coronavirus. The game official, too, was ruled a case of “false positive,” or “when someone does not have the coronavirus, tests positive for it” after his confirmatory tests yielded negative results.

The referee and player continued to follow quarantine procedures after, staying in the Athletes’ Village in Capas, Tarlac, as a precautionary measure.

Amid the developments, the PBA assured that there was nothing to worry about and that they were addressing the matter accordingly.

The league vowed to continue to be on guard and assure the integrity of its bubble while closely coordinating with the pertinent government agencies.

“We would like to reiterate that the PBA bubble has not been breached, but we must always strengthen our protocols in consultation with the IATF and NTF (National Task Force) to ensure the safety of everyone in the bubble,” the PBA said in a statement.

Meanwhile, to make up for the lost play dates since Oct. 30 and for the league to stay on track of finishing the elimination round by Nov. 11, the league will have quadruple-headers on Nov. 3, 4, 6, 8, and 11 with matches beginning at 10 a.m. and triple-headers beginning at 1 p.m. on Nov. 5 and 9.

For Nov. 3, the schedule matches will have Blackwater taking on the defending champions San Miguel Beermen (10 a.m.), Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters battling Terrafirma Dyip (1 p.m.), Northport Batang Pier against TNT Tropang Giga (4 p.m.), and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings versus the Alaska Aces (6:45 p.m.). — Michael Angelo S. Murillo