Prospects of holding NCAA cagefest dim

    413

    THE 96th NCAA basketball tournament is unlikely to push through.

    A highly-reliable Malaya-Business Insight source yesterday said the cage tourney of the country’s oldest collegiate league will most likely not be played this season due to the health risks and uncertainties brought about by the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Scrap muna. Sa akin, personally ang tingin ko ay hindi na matutuloy sa 96th season, baka sa 97th,” the source said. “Hindi na kakaysa, masyadong kulang na iyong oras.”

    The source said the three other mandatory sports – volleyball, swimming, and track and field – are also likely to be mothballed.

    Only online events such as online chess and taekwondo (poomsae and speed kicking) are set to be played when the new season, to be hosted by Letran, starts with virtual opening rites on May 1.

    Despite the imminent cancelation of the basketball season, the league is not likely to extend the age limit of the players pegged at 26 years old.

    The Knights dethroned heavily-favored San Beda University, which was gunning for a “four-peat” in the finals of the last NCAA wars in three grueling games.

    The Red Lions swept the elimination round with an 18-0 record and advanced to the finals outright but fell to an all-Filipino Letran side led by the likes of now pros Jerrick Balanza, Bonbon Batiller, and Larry Muyang, finals MVP Fran Yu, and Renato Ular, with rookie coach Bonnie Tan calling the shots.

    Among the options the league considered was holding the season in a bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.

    The plan did not happen due to the whopping P40 million estimated cost and the absence of a green light from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, however.

    The rest of the NCAA 95th season was called off for good in March last year at the start of the government-imposed quarantine measures to curb the spread of the lethal contagion.

    Indoor volleyball, football, lawn tennis, soft tennis, track and field, beach volleyball, and cheerleading were cancelled last season.

    The Commission on Higher Education released the safety and health guidelines for the resumption of varsity training last October.

    Nearly five months after, the collegiate leagues are still waiting for the go-signal from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

    In December last year, the Philippine Sports Commission also crafted guidelines for the conduct of collegiate tournaments.