The PBA's bid to restart the suspended 2020 season in a bubble in Clark, Pampanga continues to gain steam.
On Thursday, the league announced that it had been given provisional clearance by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to hold Philippine Cup games and scrimmages leading up to the season restart on October 11.
Here's everything else we know so far.
How is the schedule shaping up before the restart on October 11?
Teams have to submit their final rosters by Sep. 25, and everyone is set to travel to Clark on Sep. 28 to 29. Players are given until Oct. 10 to enter the bubble before the league closes its doors.
Where in Pampanga will the PBA bubble tournament be held?
Games and scrimmages will be held at Angeles University Foundation (AUF) in Angeles City, the same location where some sporting events in last year's 30th Southeast Asian Games were held. Teams will be camped out at the Quest Hotel in Mimosa. Scrimmages will start in late September.
Travel from Quest to AUF, which will take around 15-20 minutes, will be monitored strictly. Buses will be disinfected, and the drivers are also part of the PBA's testing and quarantine protocols.
Who is allowed inside the bubble?
A maximum of 25 people per team can travel to the bubble. Five media members will also be allowed inside and will adhere to the same protocols as everyone else. All in all, about 350 people -- including the players, league officials, media, referees, committee members -- will be subjected to the bubble, and the first 300 will be tested before leaving for Clark.
Can anyone come in and go out anytime?
Vice chairman Bobby Rosales put it simply: "Once you exit the bubble, you cannot enter again."
Only injured players and eliminated teams are allowed to leave the bubble after testing.
Players who will leave the bubble for family emergencies will not be allowed back inside. Any player who leaves the bubble will lose his salary for a month, and a P100,000-peso fine and a five-game suspension for the following season will also be imposed on violators. The fine also extends to coaches, hotel staff, security, and television crew.
How about tests?
Every participant will have to be swabbed through the RT-PCR test and will undergo a five-day quarantine before being swabbed again in Clark, where they will undergo a 24-hour quarantine after another round of tests.
Inside the bubble, antigen tests will be administered regularly, though the frequency has yet to be determined. Per Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president Vince Dizon, bubble participants will use the Stay Safe app to trace any symptoms.
How will the PBA handle a possible positive test?
Any player or personnel that will test positive for COVID-19 will immediately be taken out of the bubble and into a nearby isolation facility, according to Dizon.
Has anybody opted out of the bubble?
Commissioner Willie Marcial said only NLEX's Larry Fonacier has expressed his intention to skip the bubble so far. He will not be sanctioned for opting out.
What is the tournament format and what will the schedule look like?
The conference will still be a single round robin elimination, and the top four teams will earn a twice-to-beat in the quarterfinals. The semifinals will be a best-of-five series, while teams will play a best-of-seven in the finals. The season is projected to end anywhere between Dec. 15 and 18.
Elimination round games will be played twice a day on 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. for seven days a week and will be aired live on One Sports and PBA Rush with livestream on ESPN5.com. Games on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday will be simulcast on TV5. The schedule for the playoffs is still not clear as of posting time, although in recent conferences the quarterfinals and semifinals were held daily while the finals were held on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
How about new signings? Will they be allowed?
The only signings allowed will be that of free agents and contract extensions. Players may only be traded before the start of the games in the bubble.
How else is the PBA bubble similar to that of the NBA's?
Just like the NBA, virtual fans will also be present in live games. Commissioner Marcial is also open to players wearing social justice messages behind their jerseys as long as the Board of Governors allows it.
This article was last updated on Sept. 24, 2020.