PBA board chairman Ricky Vargas. PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines — Victorico “Ricky” Vargas shed more light on the Philippine Basketball Association’s ambitious plan to resuscitate a season that has been stalled for nearly seven months by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ll tell you, it’s close to P65 million that will cost us,” the league’s chair told Noli Eala in an episode of “Power & Play” Saturday morning.

The brunt of expenses will come from the delegates’ lodging and meals, according to Vargas who along with Commissioner Willie Marcial earlier politely declined in providing a ballpark figure for the compressed Philippine Cup set to be held across multiple sites in the Clark Freeport Zone.

The tournament will feature daily double-headers at the Angeles University Foundation’s school gym, a facility situated in a residential area, and is 20 minutes away from Quest Hotel, the designated quarters.

The soft-spoken executive also disclosed five key factors that helped in the Board of Governors’decision. The hunt for the venue of PBA’s reboot originally had 20 candidates.

“First, the safety. Do they have enough space for us to assure our safety? [Second], the medical facilities, and whether there strict protocols for entry and exit,” said Vargas.

“Number three was the cost… Then the facilities … for (the delegates’) well-being. And fifth was communication. There’s got to be connectivity because the games will be broadcast,” he added.

Both Vargas and Marcial hailed Vince Dizon and Noel Manankil for playing key roles in the negotiation.

Dizon, the president and chief executive officer of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, is also the national government’s deputy chief implementor for the country’s coronavirus response. He is also one of the administration’s “testing czars.”

The fee “could’ve been more than” P65 million, according to Vargas, adding that the league received plenty of discounts, especially with the venues.

“Even the testing now is for free,” he added.

Three hundred fifty delegates—25 of which to come from the league’s 12 members teams, and the remainder from the league’s staff and members of the press—will be going through antigen tests prior entry to the Clark bubble.

Although Vargas conceded that he has information with regard to the details of the screening which will be handled by a team led by Dr. Raul Canlas, a renowned surgeon.

“It’s being firmed up yet with the science. I cannot actually tell you exactly how it is—the safety measures,” said the chair.

In the event that a delegate contracts the virus, the PBA’s intent is to remove that player from the bubble for quarantine and treatment as competition plods along.

Vargas in a response to the Inquirer during Thursday’s virtual presser, said he is confident that the plan will be approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases

The Clark proposal was formally sent to the task force on Friday, according to Vargas.

The PBA sought clearance to mount 5-on-5 scrimmages on Sept. 7, which has yet to be decided.

Several questions remain unanswered over the Clark setup, among them are practice venues for idle teams, testing frequency, and whether personnel from the industries that will cater to the reboot would also enjoy the same benefits.

Marcial said an advance team will be making inspections on Monday ahead of the IATF decision that is set to be known around “Thursday or Friday.”


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