MANILA, Philippines -- Ateneo de Manila University coach Tab Baldwin knows the Blue Eagles will have to focus on their academic responsibilities first before turning their attention to the basketball court.
Like all sports teams, the Blue Eagles are feeling the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic, as they have been unable to stick to their traditional schedule ahead of the collegiate basketball season. Instead, they are being "as innovative and as positive" as possible in terms of their preparation.
"We don't know what it's going to look like, when we come back together," Baldwin said in a recent episode of the "Coaches Unfiltered" podcast. "And certainly, I don't think any of us are going to get exactly what we think we're going to get when we do assemble."
At the moment, Baldwin and his coaching staff are making do with keeping track of their players' physical training. However, he also wants them to get a head start on their academic responsibilities, given the university's strict rules about their student-athletes.
"You know, we're nothing if we're not students, and that's been true. That's true in Ateneo for a long, long time. People can't cut it as a student, you're not a basketball player," said the coach.
"So we have to incorporate that into whatever our plans would be in the upcoming months," he added.
Ateneo has shifted its classes to the online realm because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has also rescheduled its upcoming school year. The intersession term, which was supposed to start this month, has been moved to July 6.
The first semester in the Loyola Schools will be from August 26 to December 23, but Baldwin wants the Blue Eagles to be at work long before that.
"The first semester certainly is going to be online," said Baldwin. "The university has already announced that."
"We're even trying to get all our players into the summer sessions online, just to get them a little bit ahead in terms of credits, because the one thing we all have an abundance of now is time," he added.
"So we can use that time productively in various aspects of our life, then that's a good thing."
The Blue Eagles, thus, can be expected to take online classes in July, which will give them the liberty of putting a bit more focus on basketball once they can physically get together.
Baldwin is hopeful that once government regulations are lifted, the Blue Eagles can hold a proper training camp -- which will still put emphasis on their academics.
"Obviously, one of the elements of that is going to be a daily study hall, or a daily study period in which we're devoted to the academic advancement of our players," he said.
There is still no update on when the new season of the UAAP will start.
While the Blue Eagles were able to complete their campaign in Season 82 and secure a third straight men's basketball title, the second semester sports were cancelled in March because of the pandemic.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).