MANILA, Philippines -- Defending UAAP champion Ateneo de Manila University has a plan in place, as they await the release of the guidelines for student-athletes' return to training.
The government gave student-athletes the green light to resume practices in areas under general community quarantine and modified general community quarantine last September 7. However, they must first wait for the guidelines being crafted by a technical working group created by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
The group, which also includes representatives of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the Department of Health (DOH), the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), and representatives of the collegiate leagues, have been working on the guidelines since the first week of the month.
CHED chairman Popoy de Vera initially said that the guidelines will be released within three weeks.
"We're excited about the opportunity to get back together," Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin said of their upcoming resumption of training. "We look forward to it."
"The discussions we have had with our administration, our management and our supporters is that as soon as we can get back together, we will," he also said. "But obviously the parents will also be a part of this discussion and final decision."
Baldwin, who has led Ateneo to three consecutive UAAP men's basketball titles, has previously said that he expects the Blue Eagles to "go backwards" after losing precious time to prepare due to the pandemic. Unlike in previous seasons, Ateneo was unable to hold training camps both locally and abroad in order to prepare for their UAAP campaign.
Like most other teams, the Blue Eagles have been training individually throughout the quarantine period, with their coaches monitoring them virtually.
Once they get the go-signal from CHED, however, the team is ready to train together once again.
"I'd like to say to you, we have all engines running and we're ready to go," Baldwin said. "There still will be a few boxes to tick before we can step out on the court."
"But I can tell you, from the players and the coaching staff's perspective, we are very much ready to go," he added.
Ordinarily, the UAAP season would already be ongoing, but the health crisis has forced the league to postpone the start of Season 83 until the first quarter of 2021. An exact date has yet to be announced.
De La Salle University will host Season 83.