THE scheduled rubber match in the South Division finals of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) Lakan Season on Wednesday did not push through in accordance with the league’s health and safety protocols.

The win-or-go home game between Basilan Steel and the Davao Occidental Tigers was forced to be canceled as the entire Steel delegation was put under seven-day quarantine after being classified as persons under investigation with one of its players testing positive for the coronavirus.

The player, who was not identified by the league, had already been isolated while the rest of the team were put under quarantine as per protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

The Game Three Southern Division Finals match between Basilan and Davao Occidental, scheduled at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, was supposed to kick off the MPBL’s return after a year-long hiatus because of the pandemic.

The Northern Division Finals rubber match between the San Juan Knights and the Makati Super Crunch, however, pushed through in a “bubble” setup inside the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority in Zambales.

“We are under seven-day quarantine,” confirmed Basilan head coach Jerson Cabiltes whose team arrived in the league’s bubble on March 8.

Every Steel player and official will undergo another round of swab testing after seven days. If the results are negative, the league will then reschedule the win-or-go-home tiff.

Basilan stunned Davao Occidental, 74-72, on March 9 last year to take the opener of the three-game series that was held at the RDR Gymnasium in Tagum City.

The Tigers were able to knot the series two days later after an 81-76 win at Lamitan Capitol Gym in the Steel’s home turf.

The pandemic forced the league to stop play afterward as the pandemic made its presence felt further in the country.

The MPBL was cleared to resume its stalled Lakan Season last week through new protocols set by the government. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo