Ateneo de Manila University is set for a rigorous buildup as it opens a training camp in Israel before competing in Season 85 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament October.
While other UAAP squads are sharpening their skills and developing their chemistry in local pre-season tournaments, Blue Eagles team manager Epok Quimpo told Daily Tribune that they have decided to boost their stocks by training abroad.
The overseas camp is scheduled in the last week of August, a couple of weeks after their participation in the World University Basketball Series in Tokyo from 9 to 11 August.
The four-team tourney will pit the Blue Eagles against Tokai University of Japan, National Chengchi University of Taiwan and Universitas Pelita Harapan of Indonesia.
The squad initially committed to participate in the FilOil preseason tourney, but it had a change of heart and chose to pitch camp in Israel, instead.
“We’ll have an overseas training in Israel by the end of August,” Quimpo said.
“They know there’s lots of work to be done. Right after the finals, they wanted to start training right away.”
After winning three straight titles before the pandemic, including a sweep of Season 82, the Tab Baldwin-mentored Blue Eagles lost their steam and faltered as University of the Philippines reigned supreme in a best-of-three championship series in May.
Quimpo said the team is in a sort of rebuild after losing graduating players like Gian Mamuyac, Tyler Tio and Rafi Verano.
Playmaker SJ Belangel, meanwhile, decided to forgo his final playing year and joined the pro ranks with Daegu Kogas in the Korean Basketball League.
With that, big man Ange Kouame, Dave Ildefonso, Chris Koon and Forthsky Padrigao are expected to carry the torch for Ateneo together with newcomers Paul Garcia and Kai Ballungay.
“In terms of motivation, right after the finals, they are really motivated to practice again,” Quimpo said.
“These (games and camp) are really important for them.”