THE NCAA saw its Season 95 terminated due to the COVID-19 pandemic while looking forward to savage its basketball and volleyball tournaments by staging “bubbles” next year.
After completing its usual collegiate volleyball doubleheader last Feb. 13, the league suspended play due to the coronavirus outbreak, which back then the country has few cases. Six days earlier, the NCAA put on hold its juniors volleyball competitions.
A few days after Luzon went into lockdown, the worst fear happened, as the league shut down the season last March 19.
“The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has announced through the Policy Board of Season 95 President Francisco Cayco of Season Host Arellano University that NCAA Season 95 is terminated. This was arrived at after consultation with Policy Board members,” the league said in a statement.
“First and foremost that was considered was the safety of the athletes, students, fans, and officials,” the statement added.
The cancellation also forced the NCAA not to award the overall champions in the seniors and juniors divisions. San Beda and College of Saint Benilde were locked in a tight battle for the general championship in both divisions when the competitions were shelved.
“Because the 1-2-3 spots are up for grabs. So we decided not to award a general championship,” said then NCAA Management Committee chairman Peter Cayco of Arellano in a virtual PSA Forum last June.
With the shutdown of ABS-CBN, the league has no recourse but to find a new television coveror. The NCAA was in the middle of a 10-year contract with ABS-CBN when the giant network saw its congressional license not renewed by the House of Representatives last July.
The league on Dec. 17 has formalized its five-year partnership with television giant GMA 7.
NCAA Policy Board head and Letran rector and president Rev. Fr. Clarence Marquez, OP. is grateful that GMA had came forward and offered its expertise in order for the NCAA to turn the dreams of its student-athletes into reality.
“More than putting ink on paper, this MOA between the NCAA and GMA Network is really an act of hope, committing the 10-member schools of the first and longest-running collegiate athletic league in partnership with the number one multi-media network, to fulfilling the dreams of our student-athletes to healthy and safe competition, and inspiring our school communities and the entire country towards a better way of engaging and enjoying sports, especially in the context of this pandemic,” said Marquez.
To savage what’s left of Season 96, the league is plotting to open the competitions with only four events via self-contained environments.
“That’s a possibility but we’ll see what happens,” said NCAA Management Committee chairman Fr. Vic Calvo, OP.
The league’s initial plan was splitting its basketball and volleyball events to two groups.
Letran, University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, Lyceum of the Philippines, Mapua and Jose Rizal University will be in the Intramuros’ bubble, while San Beda, Arellano, Emilio Aguinaldo College, San Beda and St. Benilde will be either in the confines of Recto or Mendiola.
A proposal of staging the season patterned after the Southeast Asian Games, where all events including track and field, swimming and e-sports will be finished in two to three weeks.
Despite all the uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Knights, the reigning men’s basketball champions, made a lot of noise.
Rhenz Abando, Brent Paraiso and Ira Bataller, who left University of Santo Tomas at the height of University of Santo Tomas’ Sorsogon “bubble” controversy, had sealed their commitment to play for Letran last September.
“Their addition is certainly a huge boost to our program as they also bring their experiences to our championship core. Our team management, staff, and I have also done our homework on how we can easily integrate them into our team,” said coach Bonnie Tan.
By making the Knights as the team to beat in the next NCAA wars which was stalled by the coronavirus pandemic, Tan can’t wait to see what Abando, Paraiso and Bataller can offer to the squad.
As 2021 ushers in, the NCAA hopes to hold its competitions safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.Publication Source : People's Tonight