MANILA, Philippines – The UAAP says it is more than ready when it tips off Season 85 at the Mall of Asia Arena with the men’s basketball tournament on Saturday, October 1.
According to UAAP Season 85 president Fr. Aldrin Suan, CM, of hosts Adamson University, the Falcons will play the UST Growling Tigers on opening day at 2 pm, which will be followed by defending champion UP Fighting Maroons going against the La Salle Green Archers at 4 pm.
On Sunday, October 2, the UE Red Warriors will open the two-game date against the NU Bulldogs, while the Ateneo Blue Eagles will face the FEU Tamaraws at 4 pm.
Contrary to live opening ceremonies that have graced seasons past, the UAAP opted to do a pre-recorded one that will commence at 12:30 pm, per league executive director Rebo Saguisag.
“You have to remember, these things do not happen overnight. The hosts have planned this way before. To be fair to [them], they had to make the decision at the time,” he explained at the online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday, September 20.
“Six months ago, the situation remained very fluid. It’s difficult, as there might be a surge. So they had to make a decision at the time to have the opening pre-recorded,” added Saguisag, who noted that “best practices” will be adopted once again.
Among the “best practices” the UAAP will observe this season is the continued weekly COVID-19 testing for student-athletes despite not being a requirement by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), along with the prohibited interactions between athletes and fans.
Fans at the Mall of Asia Arena will also now be able to enjoy seating in the VIP/Patron area, but the area behind benches will remain cordoned off to the public.
The Araneta Coliseum, the PhilSports Arena in Pasig, and the Ynares Center in Antipolo will also serve host for UAAP games, Suan announced.
Due to the recent battles waged between Ateneo and UP, the league also decided to sell the game tickets separately, akin to Ateneo and La Salle.
To accommodate the changes, the first game for separate ticket games will be held at 12 pm, while the Ateneo-La Salle/UP games will be staged at 4 pm.
The basketball schedule will also consider the next FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers window in November, as the league will take a break to accommodate possible call-ups, in coordination with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
Due to this, the league will be scheduling quadruple headers anew on Wednesdays, adopting what the Season 82 host Ateneo did to give way to the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The UAAP Cheerdance tilt, on the other hand, will be held on December 10, while the men’s basketball finals is projected to end on December 17.
Regarding the recent exodus of various athletes for greener pastures abroad, Suan and Saguisag said they do not mind athletes leaving, if they remember that they drop their amateur status in doing so.
“It’s not really new because there have always been challenges to the part of the collegiate ranks. Sometimes they transfer to other collegiate leagues or any other professional leagues, local and abroad,” Saguisag said.
“For us, from developing youth and the best opportunity to succeed, it’s just in line with our goal to give student-athletes the best position to succeed and to give their families an opportunity to a better life.”
Suan seconded Saguisag, adding that they have no control over student-athletes’ desire to give a better life to their families.
“We have an oversupply of basketball players in the Philippines and a limited venue for them to express your skills. Why curtail the opportunity to people? For us to grow, always grab the opportunity,” he said.
Athletes will be considered eligible if they are aged 25 between June 1, 2022 and May 31, 2023, according to Suan.
Many sports will also be making a return to the league, as Adamson is set to scatter 60 events across 21 sports.
Among those set to be played but without finalized dates so far are volleyball, women’s and high school basketball, badminton, chess, tennis (lawn and table), beach volleyball, swimming, athletics, judo, taekwondo, baseball, softball, seniors and high school football, 3×3 basketball, and streetdance. – Rappler.com