PBA ‘bubble’?

August 25, 2020

THE Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is borrowing a page from the successful NBA restart that it is now considering doing the bubble concept, too for its season to push through.

League board chairman Ricky Vargas admitted the model, costly as it may, provided the NBA the proper blueprint to resume its season that he doesn’t see any problem adopting the same formula for Asia’s first ever play-for-pay league.

Vargas mentioned Laguna, Batangas, Subic, and good old Smart Araneta Coliseum as possible venues where the 45-year-old pro league can set up the bubble.

“Nandito na tayo. May own feeling as part of the Board as chairman, we do not have a choice. May model na e, and the model is the NBA, so we just have go ahead and look forward to the time na maglalaro na tayo whether it’s the NBA way or a more innovative way,” he said.

Vargas and league commissioner Willie Marcial talked about the bubble plan of the PBA during Tuesday’s webcast edition of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.

Marcial mentioned among those being considered as possible venues for the season resumption other than the Big Dome are the Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna, a school gym in Batangas, and a golf and country club in Subic.

He said deputy commissioner Eric Castro is already coordinating and talking to possible people involved in setting up the bubble that will housed all the 12 teams and other league personnel totaling to at least 350 people.

“Kung mapapapunta nga sa sinasabi ni chairman na bubble, ipi-present ko sa kanila (Board) yan, ilalatag ko sa kanila at tapos titignan namin kung ano ang pinaka-magandang option,” said Marcial in the session presented by San Miguel Corp., Go For Gold, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), and powered by Smart, with Upstream Media as webcast partner.

The commissioner said the Board will have another round of meeting to discuss about the plans.

While other members of the Board are also enthusiastic about the proposal, Vargas admitted it will definitely come with a huge cost.

“Ang isa pang problema diyan more than the site and the bubble option is yung financial,” said Vargas, noting how it was actually the NBA itself which fully spent for the construction of the entire bubble estimated to be around $180 million for a shortened season.

“So we will have to look at our own financial kung puwedeng sagutin ng PBA yan or will it be shared within the teams. So these are important issues that we have to discuss in the Board.”

But somehow, somewhere, the season has to restart, according to Vargas, representative of the TNT Katropa to the Board.

“I agree with what Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu said that there is going to be pressure financially for the team if these goes on for a longer period of time. Not only for the teams, but for the PBA itself,” he added.

“More importantly, we don’t want the PBA’s popularity to lose out also, that we are not doing anything. Our fans could be more aggressive than us and we’d like to satisfy also all of their concerns.”

The first step towards a possible season restart commenced also on Tuesday as at least half of the 12 teams already began their respective individual workouts led by five-time Philippine Cup defending champion San Miguel.

For both Vargas and Marcial, that should be a good sign.

“We are ready. This is a very good start, and we are ready to do what we’re supposed to do,” added the PBA chairman.