THE recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the country has forced Blackwater to take extra precautions, no matter the toll it would take on the team’s preparations for the coming PBA season.
Coach Nash Racela said his team is set to resume practice as early as today after more than a week of stoppage that he ordered due to the frightening spike in virus cases, particularly in Quezon City where the Bossing’s sessions are being conducted.
“Actually, nag-swab (test) kami nu’ng Tuesday then may follow up swab kami yesterday,” Racela told Malaya-Business Insight.
“If we get clearance today or tomorrow then we resume,” added Racela. “Parang naninigurado lang kami, pati management. Kasi di mo alam kung sino ang infected.”
Racela related that his stoppage order came after the March 14 rookie draft and following an advisory from the QC local government preventing the operation of gyms and other similar facilities where crowds could gather.
“We wanted to make sure first that we get the clearance from the LGU,” offered Racela.
“Last Tuesday nakakuha kami clearance. That was also the schedule ng first swab test namin. Kami naman parang minabuti namin to suspend practices muna.”
Another reason Racela cited was to minimize the risk of infection among the players and personnel involved in the small group practices.
“Kasi hindi namin alam kung saan pa nagpupunta ‘yung iba, ‘yung mga taong na-e-encounter nila,” admitted Racela. “So parang minabuti namin to stop for a while. Naka-depend kami sa resulta namin.”
The team’s safety measures have now been even more bolstered. “We’re also working for a more efficient contact tracing,” said Racela.
There are some downsides to such precautions, however.
“Ang balik noon, sayang ang pinuhunan mo in your previous practices because we stopped for a week-and-a-half. In the meantime kanya-kanya ulit diskarte,” admitted Racela.
“Pati ‘yung mga weights training affected kasi ayaw nga naming mag-gather so kanya-kanyang bahay muna. Di ko alam kung paano dahil magastos and maybe we can ask management for help,” added Racela. “Kasi ‘yung ibang players may gamit sa bahay, pero ‘yung iba wala.”
There is also the matter of Racela having yet to personally see in action, even if only via the five-player, non-contact sessions the league currently allows, Blackwater’s new acquisitions, including the draftees.
“’Yun din ang problema. Hindi pa namin nakakasama mga na-draft. Pero nag-uusap naman sila ng management,” said Racela.
Blackwater actually drafted six but it seems likely, according to Racela, that only Rey Mark Acuno, Joshua Torralba and Andre Paras would be signed up.
“With the lineup we have we’re looking at signing maybe only three,” said Racela.