CLARK, Pampanga – While being on what is virtually a 10-week business trip appears to be a daunting task to here in the PBA Bubble, the amenities at the Quest Hotel have given many of the people here (competitors and staff alike) a multitude of opportunities to “get away from it all” even for just a brief spell.
This unprecedented undertaking by the league to restart and complete the 2020 Philippine Cup has had teams focused on the goal of winning it all. But while the mission is ongoing, there are breaks that allow everyone to engage in leisure activities to temper the literally daily grind of practices, workouts and games.
For starters, the swimming pools have been one of the main attractions for teams, so much so that its usage is now on a schedule revolving around the downtime between designated team practices, gym time and competition. That schedule goes well into the night with the pool having occupants as late as 10:00 p.m.
There is also an outdoor game room where many heated battles on the billiards table and the dart board have ensued since the schedule normalized here. Frequent visitors include John Pinto and Bryan Faundo of Meralco, Blackwater’s Jon Gabriel and Roi Sumang and practically the entire Northport squad.
In an intense battle of “poker pool”, Kevin Ferrer and Jervy Cruz recently emerged as co-winners of NorthPort’s intra-team tournament, but this could develop into a series as others involved are reportedly lobbying for a rematch.
The grounds here are quite extensive that jogging around the compound especially in the early mornings and towards dusk have been the norm, with teams often going in groups. However, Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa and LA Tenorio have also brandished their electric scooters around the same course, while Japeth Aguilar uses his long board to get similar exhilaration. Their coach Tim Cone often takes an hour-long trek around the area where he takes time to talk to family online during his time alone.
“I just had a one-hour conversation with my son,” Cone shared after one of his walks. “It was great to do it while getting all this fresh air.”
NorthPort pivot Christian Standhardinger is still seen with a basketball in hand as he exits the building every morning-when their team isn’t in the gym or practicing.
“I still can’t make free throws,” he lamented.
So he frequents the outdoor basketball court and concentrates on that facet of his game that could be crucial towards the tail end of the campaign.
Besides the outdoor amenities, among the players’ favorite hangouts is the ice cream bar at the coffee shop, where they get to choose from a selection of 14 flavors while waiting to board the bus to the Angeles University Foundation (AUF) or while waiting for their respective food deliveries near the main lobby.
But perhaps the most anticipated rest day is Mondays. That’s when coaches and players fortunate enough to have a break on that day visit the nearby par-70 golf course.
“It’s an easy course, but the time there still helps you refocus and realign,” said San Miguel assistant coach Jorge Gallent, widely regarded as the best golfer here.
However, many still spend a majority of their off days holed up in their rooms with some bringing their personal gaming consoles, Chromecasts and Amazon Firesticks as well as their laptops. There are also instances where competitive card games are active well into the night.
With many contingents are already on their third week here, adjustment has certainly been made easier by the leisure amenities here at the Quest Hotel. Whether they prefer to stay in their rooms for some online gaming, engage in old-fashioned pool or darts, or venture outside to soak in the fresh air, there’s something that’s bound to satisfy every type of leisure time craving.