THE UNIVERSITY Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) has reaffirmed its commitment to support Gilas Pilipinas in its campaign for the remaining qualifying windows and beyond, including the World Cup hosting itself in 2023.

Part of that full backing is UAAP’s decision to take a break in November for the Gilas’ fifth window stint despite the return of the country’s premier collegiate to a complete 21-sport, 60-event calendar for Season 85 with Adamson as host.

As per UAAP executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag, the UAAP after its opener on Oct. 1 will halt action from Nov. 7 to 15 in the middle of its centerpiece men’s basketball event to give way for Gilas’ away games on Nov. 10-13.

Gilas, though already in the World Cup as main host, continues its qualifying campaign on the road by then against Jordan on Nov. 10 and Saudi Arabia on Nov. 13

The move will stretch the basketball tourney around Christmas season until Dec. 17 for the first time, which the UAAP is willing to do for the sake of the national team after an initial discussion with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).

“It’s a small sacrifice,” said Mr. Saguisag as University of the Philippines’ Carl Tamayo, La Salle’s Kevin Quiambao and Ateneo’s Ange Kouame are set for Gilas call-up next window.

More than that, the UAAP is in discussion with the federation on what roles could the universities and students play to assure the success of the historic World Cup hosting on Aug. 25 to Sept. 10 next year.

As for the trending development of some collegiate players taking their talents abroad, Mr. Saguisag and UAAP Season 85 President Fr. Aldrin Suan, CM, of Adamson in their personal views don’t see any problem at all.

“It’s in line with the goal to give the student-athletes the best position to succeed and give their families an opportunity for a better life,” said Mr. Saguisag, reiterating that the UAAP is not running out of talents and will only give other players a chance to shine.

“We have to take note that the professional opportunity of basketball in the Philippines is very limited and we have an overwhelming supply of basketball players. It creates an opportunity,” added Fr. Suan, who emphasized that their opinions do not represent the UAAP or their schools in any capacity. — John Bryan Ulanday