Maybe it’s a lack of passion and more importantly, health concerns.

Just like most things on the planet, this pandemic is driving everything we love in a whole new direction.

And with the PBA finally opening its doors in New Clark City, we have witnessed a bunch of our favorite players leaving.

Guys like Kelly Williams, Peter June Simon, Sonny Thoss, and the De Ocampo brothers have announced their retirement from the sport. I am merely speculating but maybe the PBA Bubble is one reason to ditch the sport altogether. Into their late 30s with pretty much nothing left to prove, the months of inactivity can be a trigger to look for other opportunities.

In some ways, Larry Fonacier is a late 30s player that has done pretty much what needs to be done in his illustrious career. Yeng Guiao is stacked with options in NLEX and it’s not like he’s going to win an MVP award with June Mar Fajardo rehabbing. Matt Ganuelas-Rosser could have improved his numbers without June Mar but Leo Austria will find a way to fill in his spot. Robert Bolick is healthy, unlike Marc Pingris, but I guess we can understand Northport’s decision to take caution on their star combo playmaker after his ACL scare. Balik-Meralco defensive specialist Nonoy Baclao is another name to drop out following a lateral meniscus tear.

Opting out of the PBA Bubble is both a wasted opportunity and an obvious choice. Without Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, the retired vets, and Calvin Abueva, it’s amazing to check out which team would rise up. Ginebra is intact but without the fans, they could find their never-say-die, comeback runs weird due to the silence. I strongly believe that the lackluster plays of the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Clippers, and even the Toronto Raptors happened because they could not enjoy their homecourt advantage. While yeah, Tim Cone will not let his wards fall under this condition, but psychologically a Ginebra team has never enjoyed a win without their fans shouting to the heavens in unison.

Unlike when the NBA opened, I am not as scared for the PBA. They are in a control facility and it’s not like Filipino athletes are as prima donna as their foreign counterparts. If PBA stars would rather sit on a random SMC bench than be brave enough and look for teams that would give them the opportunity to score Hall of Fame numbers, then they are just as fine sitting in their quarters to chill in their rooms. I am not as afraid for them to take high fives for that same reason. The difference between the PBA and the NBA is that while others treat their popularity as their god-given right, most of them treat this as a way to feed their family – as evidence to the numerous leagues a player participates in after his PBA time has expired.

But from how the rosters are, it feels like it is better the PBA would choose the players for Gilas Pilipinas than prepare for the bubble.

For the first time in years, it looks as if the PBA is on an even playing field. Sure, the big corporations can still find a way to mess with the system (I said can), but the competition isn’t as one-sided as it once were. More than ever, here’s to hoping that the other players will realize that yes, it’s good to play for a championship-driven squad but if you’re just a part-time starter and you believe that you are capable enough to lead a team, then what’s stopping you to look for other opportunities to play?

For sure, guys like Mac Belo and Matthew Wright and Chris Newsome and Kiefer Ravena will have better opportunities to produce better numbers now since the basic treatment of the games without the fanfare is to act as glorified practice scrimmages. Like in the NBA Bubble, you get why players like Jamal Murray, Devin Booker, Tyler Herro, Donovan Mitchell, and others rose to the occasion because of the practice-like setting – basically like other confidence-developing factors like enhance camaraderie because of various socio-political factors, the obvious dismissing of the homecourt advantage, and for some players, to not live like douche bags. Danuel House’s could have looked at the guidelines instead of just going Leeroy Jenkins. Houston needs its bigs and after playing just 73 regular-season games in his first three seasons, this is undoubtedly his best year. Meanwhile, inasmuch as Lou Williams loves the food coming from Magic City, he also needs to know that this is not the right time to take in unnecessary problems.

Rudy Gobert became the de facto poster boy of the pandemic because he helped unleash the outbreak by playfully touching the microphones.

Looking back, I think I get why it would be hard for Gilas Pilipinas to assemble a noteworthy squad. If players are going to cautiously play physical inside the bubble, then what about playing against people you are not used to playing? Inasmuch as it’s a good thought to see old Gilas Pilipinas stars representing the country despite the circumstances, the threat is there.

New Clark City is going to start off a new normal noteworthy to check out with the PBA at its forefront. For sure, the gameplay from our hardcourt heroes can help alleviate the current situation we’re in.

Get Sydrified.

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