Baldwin hopes to play in front of fans when UAAP starts

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 15 2020 04:09 PM

Baldwin hopes to play in front of fans when UAAP starts 1

MANILA, Philippines -- Ateneo de Manila University head coach Tab Baldwin hopes to see fans in the stands when the UAAP opens its 83rd season, even as the Philippines continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The second semester sports of UAAP Season 82 were cancelled in March because of COVID-19, as the government extended the enhanced community quarantine. Among the sports that were left unfinished were the men's and women's volleyball tournaments, and the men's football tournament.

Restrictions are being gradually lifted now, however, and professional sports leagues are making steps towards a comeback. 

Baldwin, whose Blue Eagles are three-time defending champions in men's basketball, hopes that by the time the UAAP starts, fans will be allowed to watch in venues.

"For me, I would like to see us get back to life as normal," Baldwin said in an appearance on the "Coaches Unfiltered" podcast.

"I would like to see us playing in Araneta. I'd like to see fans in the stadium," he added. 

Metro Manila remains under the general community quarantine, which still forbids mass gatherings including sports events. Under the modified general community quarantine, however, sports events may be held with venues holding 50% of their capacity.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to make a decision regarding the restrictions on Metro Manila and Cebu soon. 

As of Sunday afternoon, there are 25,930 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, with 1,088 fatalities.

Baldwin, however, believes that returning to normal is worth the risk.

"I'm a bit of a rebel when it comes to the discussion about how the virus has impacted life in general and sports," Baldwin admitted. "I think that the world has overreacted."

"I don't think they overreacted initially, because we didn't know what we were confronted with. But now we know that this virus is very dangerous for certain segments of the population, and not very dangerous for the majority of the population," he added.

"I tend to think that those places that are opening up and getting back to work and getting back to normal life are going to be better off because I think, personally that the scatter effect or the collateral damage, I think, of isolation and quarantine, and these sorts of things are going to be far more detrimental to our society than the tragic loss of life that has come from the epidemic."

Globally, sports events are making a gradual return after coming to a stop in March and April due to the pandemic. In Europe, the Bundesliga and La Liga have both restarted, with the English Premier League scheduled to return next week. The NBA is also plotting its return in July.

In the Philippines, the Philippine Basketball Association and the Philippines Football League have submitted a set of protocols to the Inter-Agency Task Force and the Department of Health to put their return in motion. The NCAA, meanwhile, has announced that it will hold its 96th season in early 2021, with only four sports to be contested.

The UAAP is expected to provide updates on its status on Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum via its executive director, Atty. Rebo Saguisag. 

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).