Stags to wage war with chosen few

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    LIKE its counterparts, San Sebastian College is taking a wait-and-see approach for its preparations for the 96th NCAA basketball tournament.

    “Right now, we are waiting for the government to issue an advisory when teams can go back to practice and school. I’m praying that this pandemic will end soon,” Golden Stags coach Egay Macaraya told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.

    “In the meantime, everybody’s enjoying their long vacation at home with their families,” he added.

    According to last season’s Management Committee chair Peter Cayco of Arellano University, the league is eyeing to kick off Season 96 on May or June next year due to the uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    For Macaraya, an NCAA tourney next year will somehow ease all the regrets endured by athletes, coaches, and fans since the health crisis shot down sports events in the country and in the world last March.

    “I guess everybody will be happy if there will be an NCAA next year,” said Macaraya.

    “I hope and pray for it.”

    The financial repercussions of the deadly COVID-19 have taken their toll on some schools and the league, with Letran reportedly set to downsize its sports program.

    Macaraya bared San Sebastian has long been taking a somewhat indirect approach with his  Stags no longer nursing a Team B.

    In its place, Macaraya has been training what he called “reserves” apart from the players in the seniors’ squad whom he has chosen very carefully.

    “Sa totoo lang, matagal na kaming nagbabawas ng players. Sa basketball, wala na kaming Team B even before COVID-19 happened. Wala na kaming Team B. ‘Di ba 18 players ang nasa main team? Mayroon akong around 10 na reserves na talagang tinututukan ko, trini-train kong maigi, instead na may Team B kami,” related Macaraya.

    “Sa palagay ko lahat naman siguro ng schools ay magbabawas ng teams dahil sa epekto ng pandemic.”

    If and when the 96th NCAA season does start, Macaraya believes his team still has what it takes to crowd the other squads for the title.

    The Recto-based five will no longer have prolific wingman Allyn Bulanadi, who was tabbed by Alaska in the special Gilas Pilipinas draft last December, and Alvin Capobres, selected by Magnolia in the pro league.

    Prolific playmaker RK Ilagan and big man JM Calma are expected to lead San Sebastian’s charge.