Eagles’ UAAP preparations now up in the air as pandemic strikes out foreign training, pocket tourney

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The COVID-19 pandemic has derailed the preparations of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, who will be gunning for a fourth straight UAAP men’s basketball championship late this year.

The management of the team earlier mapped out a plan in the coming months for the Eagles, with a training camp in Serbia to touch things off in May, participation in the William Jones Cup in July and playing in a pocket tournament in Australia just before the opening of UAAP Season 83.

But the current situation has put everything on hold, team manager Epok Quimpo told the Inquirer.

“At the rate things are going, it’s really hard to plan ahead,” Quimpo said. “We just have to be ready for every scenario.”

Collegiate teams are usually at their busiest starting April with several preseason tournaments lined up and training overseas set for them in preparation for the UAAP and NCAA wars. Ateneo captured the Philippine Collegiate Champions League title early this month to earn the distinction as the country’s top collegiate team.

Quimpo said the Eagles are still working out even during the enhanced community quarantine period.

The coaching staff has been sending daily training routines for the players to follow.

Quimpo said even if the quarantine period lapses next month, it would still be difficult to arrange a training camp overseas since several countries have already adopted measures to also stop the spread of COVID-19. “There are plenty of factors to consider especially with logistics,” Quimpo said.

“Even if we’re allowed to leave the country, our counterparts in other countries may have problems of their own so it’s not just our decision.”

The Ateneo team official said that these plans are all secondary at the moment with the pandemic.

“As much as we’re hoping for things in the sports community to be back to normal, we’re also hoping and praying that everyone is safe and healthy,” Quimpo said.

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