MANILA, Philippines -- University of the Philippines (UP) coach Bo Perasol continually reminds his team -- particularly star center Bright Akhuetie -- to stay in shape even during the long months of quarantine, in anticipation of the UAAP season.
UAAP Season 83 is not slated to start until the first quarter of 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced collegiate sports leagues to reset their schedules.
While the Fighting Maroons have been training online, Perasol said this will not be enough. Like the other collegiate squads, they are also waiting for the go-signal from the government to be allowed to practice in groups.
"Ang sabi ko nga eh, the moment UAAP is going to have the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) nod, sasabihin na you go and practice, the best thing is if they are not overweight," Perasol said during a recent appearance on the "Coaches Unfiltered" podcast.
"If they are not overweight, they're just in decent condition, laban pa rin," he added.
If the players show up to camp overweight, however, Perasol doubts two months will be enough for them to get into game shape.
This will be a difficult situation for UP, if teams are given just three months to prepare for the UAAP season.
"Alam na ni Bright na siya ang pinapatamaan ko eh," Perasol also said, referring to their star center who was the league's Most Valuable Player in Season 81, when UP reached the finals for the first time in over three decades.
"So sinasabi ko palagi kay Bright, 'Bright, don't get overweight, okay?' Kasi that's the worst that can happen," he added. "I really believe that when they say you go and practice now, in about three months we're going to begin, that's not enough."
"It's not enough for those who are not conditioned physically."
It remains to be seen when collegiate teams will be allowed to train together.
In July, the Commission on Higher Education said that there will be no regular face-to-face classes in August. The joint administrative order signed by the Department of Health, the Games and Amusements Board, and the Philippine Sports Commission also bars non-professional contact sports and activities for the time being.
If and when the UAAP season begins, the Fighting Maroons are trying to build on their campaign from Season 82 when they secured the second seed and made the Final 4 for the second consecutive year.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).