Learn How These Basketball Families Are Dealing With The PBA Bubble

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We speak to PBA couples Sean and Teresa Herrera Anthony, JC and Bianca Gonzalez Intal, David and Gwen Semerad, Luigi and Ria Trillo, and Paolo and Rissa Mananquil Trillo about how the PBA bubble affected their family life

In the time of COVID-19, the Quest Hotel and Conference Center in Clark Freeport Zone is more than just a hotel — it’s home to the PBA bubble. Much like other sport organization bubbles that have popped around the world thanks to the pandemic, the PBA bubble has been home to the PBA players and staff since September 17. Which means they’ve been away from their families for more than a month now!

Thing is, almost all the families we’ve mentioned above have young children — which means it’s heartbreaking for all everyone involved. Here’s how they’re dealing with the PBA bubble:

Teresa and Sean Anthony, Northport Power Forward

pba bubble sean and teresa anthony

How are you and your kids coping so far? 

TA: Sean’s been in the bubble since first week of October and we miss him dearly. The kids and I are doing well as we’ve settled into a routine and I just keep them busy with homeschool, park and swimming at their grandparents house. 

SA: I’m not used to spending this much time away from my family. I think I underestimate how much quality time I’m able to have with them because of basketball and I definitely miss that now.

How does bonding time work?

TA: Sean has always been a very hands on dad and you can tell by the way the kids interact with him even through technology. We communicate with Sean a few times a day via FaceTime. Sometimes, he’s just on there watching our eldest Ace play with his dinosaurs! Its so cute! 

SA: I make sure to FaceTime and connect with them each day and also try to fully focus on basketball. 

What are the things you miss?

TA: His hugs, kisses, and cuddles. And he makes the best bullet proof coffee for me in the morning!

SA:  I miss my wife’s cooking especially her chicken provencal with roasted veggies. But I look forward to taking the family to some beach to relax and enjoy some quality time together. 

Gwen and David Semerad, TNT Tropang Giga, Power Forward

pba bubble gwen and david semerad

How’s everyone in the family coping with the PBA bubble?

GS: Cooper and I are coping ok, we try to make do and keep communication as strong as possible, having David involved and updated in all our daily activities. We communicate daily first thing in the morning and in evening, we sometimes fall asleep while face timing. We try to have Cooper FaceTime with David as much as possible throughout the day, sometimes when I have a few things to do around the house I leave the camera on Cooper (while he’s in his crib of playpen) so they could both have some alone playtime. 

DS: It’s definitely tough being away from my family. However I’m blessed to be able to work during these hard times and also being able to provide for them. Sacrifice lang talaga. But being in the bubble I am able to focus 100% on basketball. I wish my family were around so we could go through this journey together. I guess we’ll make up for the lost time after the bubble. 

What are the things you miss the most?

GS: I honestly miss everything, his voice, his smell, his energy, he does indeed light up the house hold with his presence. After he left, I realized that we did everything together, so when he left, it was quite a big shock, and strange to adjust to.

DS: This whole PBA made me realize that I should have spent more time with my family and would give them lots of hugs and kisses that would equal up to the amount of time I’m gone. 

Bianca and JC Intal, Phoenix Fuelmasters, Small Forward

PBA Bubble - Bianca and JC Intal

How’s your family handling everything?

BI: We miss all miss him of course, but I honestly think that it’s tougher for him because he’s the one away from us, while we are all together. Thank God for technology that he is literally a few clicks away via video call, which we do several times a day, plus random messaging throughout the day. Sometimes I leave the laptop on so he just has a view of the kids doing random things like playing or eating, without necessarily talking, he’s just there watching them so he feels like he’s just here too. Every night, we video call so he can pray with the kids too before the kids sleep.

JI: This is my first time to be away from my family especially with my kids. When I’m at home, I love spending quality time with my kids. I even nap with them.

What do you miss the most?

BI: We miss his presence the most. He is the source of fun and laughter at home, especially for the girls, so having him away really has changed the energy around here. He is the one who plays rough with the girls and that is something they definitely miss. In terms of realizations about our relationship, it’s not a new realization but maybe it affirmed it—that we really are separate individuals who continue to and prioritize growing individually and together, which I think is healthy trait of a relationship. He is supportive of all my endeavors and dreams, as I am with his.

JI: I just try to keep myself as busy as I can. I call them everyday via zoom/video call. I allowed myself to be homesick a while and just have to be used to my new routine here inside the PBA bubble. I can’t wait to get home and give my girls warm hugs and kisses!

Ria and Luigi Trillo, Meralco Bolts, Assistant Coach

Pba bubble - Ria and Luigi Trillo

Hi guys, how’s it going so far?

RT: The kids and I are doing ok considering it’s not an easy situation for any family. I think we had a good amount of time to prepare for it mentally. And it’s somehow comforting to know that really, he’s only just two hours drive away.

LT: I really miss just being around the family. These are critical years for me as a parent. My eldest is 17  and my younger three are approaching their teens (7, 9 and 12). I feel like I’m missing out a bit on that.

But how’s everything else?

LT: I FaceTime with them everyday when I get the chance which is at least 1 time a day. We have a very busy schedule here in the bubble with meetings, practices, and video editing. 

RT: Thanks to technology we’re all just a call or text away. That makes things a lot easier for all of us. We usually Viber or FaceTime. Luigi basically calls whichever one of us can answer the phone whenever he has free time. There’s really not much he can do with the kids online except catch up on kwento. He and Mikel (our 12 year old) usually share their post game analyses. 

What do you miss the most?

RT: I’ve come to appreciate all the things he does around the house. As a working mom with a LOT on her plate, it’s easy to feel like you’re all independent and self sufficient. But Luigi is actually very hands-on in the running of the house – especially since I went back to TV work two years ago. And more so during the hard lockdown days when I (fortunately!) still had to work. I hadn’t done a full grocery run since March until he went into the bubble!

LT: I miss hugging my whole family. Hugs are underrated. Seriously, I’d be happy to just be around them. Movie nights, board games, swimming in our pool. I miss our paella and steak dinners.

Rissa and Paolo Trillo, Meralco Bolts, Team Manager

PBA Bubble Rissa and Paolo Trillo

How are you and your kids coping so far? 

RT: Last September 28, Paolo had to leave for the #PBABubble. With two suitcases in tow, Celestia and Audra wanted to cry but bravely held back their tears to give him pretty smiles for him to remember.  “I felt like the world was going to end,” Celestia told me. With the PBA conference to be held in a bubble at Clark, the players and coaching staff of all 12 PBA teams will be separated from their families possibly until December. 

It was painful to see the girls crying the very first time Paolo told them about the news. During the first three days he was gone, they already kept asking, “When will you be back, Pappy?” But thanks to technology, the girls get to “see” him constantly through FaceTime and Zoom dates. Paolo even agreed to virtually oversee Audra’s schoolwork during his free time to help lighten the load on my plate. 

PT: I would never want to be away from my family for work but these are extraordinary times. I miss everything about them. It’s difficult of course but I make sure to stay in touch with them every day through video calls or messages. 

What do you think of the bubble?

RT: The PBA Bubble is truly bittersweet because the teams that do well will have to stay in the bubble longer. We’d love to have Paolo back home but we are wishing the Meralco Bolts the best and we Trillo girls will be rooting for them!

PT: The bubble is the only safe way for the PBA games to go on— we’re all finding ways to adjust and deal with it, and in the process have shared a common bond. 

What’s the first thing you want to do when you see each other?

RT: The first thing we want to do when he gets back is to set up our Christmas tree. It’s been our tradition to do this as a family. We play Christmas music while setting everything up and it’s something the girls really look forward to and hold sacred. Whether this happens sometime soon or later in December, it will be worth the wait. 

PT: I can’t wait to hug my three girls. 

Thanks, guys!

Everyone in the PBA bubble is grateful to be given this opportunity to give Filipinos all over the world something to look forward to. But, one thing’s for sure, they all miss being with their families. This can’t be easy for them, but that’s what parents do — make difficult decisions everyday for the love of their kids.

Kudos to all the PBA families!