THE Inspire Sports Academy Complex may not fit all of the PBA’s needs, but it suits TNT just fine.
Coach Bong Ravena said the KaTropa may stretch their stay inside the Calamba, Laguna compound just to make sure they are safe from the lingering coronavirus threat.
“Malamang, dito pa rin kami,” Ravena told Malaya-Business Insight. “Kasi protected ka, nasa sariling bubble ka. But if you go back to Manila, balik-activities ka, maaring lumabas ka. Hindi mo alam, pero bigger risk nandoon ka. Kasi open na ‘yan. “Pag dito isolated kayo, bubble kayo, hindi kayo makakalabas.”
The complex inside the National U-Laguna campus is one of the sites being eyed by the PBA to conduct its NBA-style bubble should the country’s pro league be allowed to play out its Philippine Cup games, hopefully by next month.
Aside from Inspire, also in the PBA’s radar are the Smart Araneta Coliseum and similar venues in Batangas, Subic, Pampanga, Palawan, Baguio and even faraway Dubai.
“Tinitingnan natin lahat ng pupuwede, ‘yung mga lugar na uubra, and then isa-submit ko sa (PBA) Board ang recommendation ko,” Commissioner Willie Marcial said.
The site selected should be able to accommodate 350 to 400 people, including players, coaching and support staff and PBA and TV personnel.
That is where Inspire may fall short.
Since arriving at the complex last Wednesday, Ravena immediately assessed whether it could host the PBA bubble, a side chore ordered by TNT executive and PBA chairman Ricky Vargas.
“Una naming tiningnan. Facility too small for the PBA bubble,” noted Ravena.
“Kasi ‘yung mga rooms, kulang ito for sure,” added Raavena. “Okay sana ang facility.
Maganda equipment, maganda gym. But if you conduct the PBA bubble medyo maliit ito. Four floors and mga 20 rooms lang per floor. Kulang na kulang.”
According to its website, Inspire has a total of 176 beds in its hotel and dormitel.
Marcial had previously said a nearby Microtel branch could house those that Inspire could not accommodate, adding that negotiations are still ongoing. Inspire officials are set to make a final presentation to Marcial.
Except from the shortage of rooms and beds, Ravena has nothing but glowing description for Inspire, where the Katropa are conducting their small group workouts and conditioning programs.
“May Asian Hospital dito. It separates the dormitel from the gym, siguro mga 10 meters lang,” related Ravena, addressing another PBA concern about an adequate medical facility within the confines of the projected bubble site.
“May cable TV, internet. Also, ang ganda ng equipment, kumpleto. Kumbaga ‘yung bench (press) mga anim, walo. ‘Yung treadmill mga anim kaya hindi talaga nag-aagawan.”
TNT is supposed to stay at Inspire only until Sept. 9, but Ravena clearly wants to stay put.
“Controlled environment talaga dito at walang istorbo. Mas maganda na kami dito, mas safe,” he said.