Pro league not letting guard down

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    THE PBA could breathe a little easier, but should never let its guard down.

    An antigen test conducted on a referee classified as a “suspect” case for the COVID-19 virus last Wednesday afternoon yielded a negative result, prompting league and other officials to assume it may be a false positive incident.

    Still, Commissioner Willie Marcial warned everybody inside the league bubble at the Clark Freeport Zone and AUF Sports Arena in Pampanga to continue to be even more vigilant and keep the deadly virus out.

    “Sinabi ko na sa mga players, sa mga staff, referees at table officials na wake-up call sa atin ito, na huwag tayo masyadong relaxed,” Marcial said in a press conference Wednesday.

    “Totoo naman, nasa bubble tayo. Pero ganu’n pa rin,” added Marcial. “Kailangan sundin pa rin natin ‘yung protocols – (face) mask, (face) shield, alcohol, linis ng katawan. Ganu’n pa rin.”

    The antigen test result somewhat eased the scare the PBA contingent got earlier in the day when the unnamed referee was announced to be a “suspect” case.

    The referee was asymptomatic and had negative results in each of the first three times he was swab tested before and upon his entry into the bubble. He got the positive result on his fourth test conducted last Monday.

    As part of the precautions enforced by the CDC, DOH and league officials, the referee was immediately extracted from the contingent’s billeting at the Quest Hotel and isolated at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. He is set to undergo a 14-day quarantine period before taking another RT-PCR test to confirm the antigen result.

    All of the eight persons listed as the ref’s close contacts were also identified and similarly isolated. They will also undergo another round of RT-PCR tests on Saturday.

    In the meantime, the PBA has been left with seven referees until more could be brought in from Manila.

    “Pinapapunta ko na ‘yung two to three referees na makaakyat na rito sa atin,” said Marcial, adding the new arrivals would have to undergo mandatory pre-entry tests and quarantine.

    One referee, Jeffrey Tantay, had to officiate in two games last Wednesday, joining Peter Balao, Mardy Montoya, Mike Flordelize, Jimmy Mariano, Dacx Dacanay and Joel Baldago.

    The PBA usually allots four refs a game and that would still be the set-up at least until Sunday.

    “Back-to-back talaga sila hanggang Sunday,” said Marcial. “Kasi sa Sunday pa naman natin malalaman ‘yung resulta nu’ng mga bagong pasok na naka-quarantine.”