SAN BEDA University’s annual overseas training camp, which serves as a big part of its preparations for the NCAA cage wars, might be called off this year due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19.
“It can only be possible if this global crisis comes to an end in the next three to four months, which is highly unlikely,” Red Lions team manager Jude Roque told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.
“It’s not safe to travel this year unless things dramatically change about this pandemic. Not impossible, but chances are slim. Right now, training is not even doable here,” he added.
The good news for the Red Lions?
While the financial repercussions of the global pandemic have affected some teams and the league, with Letran reportedly set to downsize its sports program, Roque is confident the Manny V. Pangilinan-backed squad will be just fine.
“So far, I think SBU is okay. We are blessed to have many alumni donors,” said Roque.
“Hopefully, we can sustain this.”
San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez said most of his players are in their provinces and their safety and health are more important than getting back to practice.
“The Red Lions are still in lockdown for two months now. We are still waiting some news from the government kung kailan sila papayag na makabalik at makapag-practice na,” related Fernandez,
“Almost all of our players are in their home provinces spending more time with their families and I do thank the Lord that everyone is safe and healthy.”
Fernandez is not losing his patience despite the long wait before the country’s oldest collegiate league could begin Season 96.
“Well, matagal pa talaga ang paghihintay basta safe lang lahat ay okay lang. New normal pero sana kahit late 2020 or early 2021 ay matuloy ang season,” he said.
“Ipagdasal natin na matapos na ang krisis na ito.”
After losing ace playmaker Evan Nelle, who transferred to La Salle in the UAAP, the Lions will rely on the likes of reigning MVP Calvin Oftana, Fil-Canadian guard James Canlas, big men Franz Abuda and Kemark Carino, Damie Cuntapay, JB Bahio, and blue-chip rookies Rhayyan Amsali and Tony Ynot, both San Beda High School standouts, and transferee Ralph Penuela, who used to suit up for University of the East.
San Beda completed an 18-0 elimination sweep last year to gain an outright finals slot but lost to rival Letran in three games.