RED LIONS coach Boyet Fernandez admitted that San Beda University attempted to set up its own “bubble” or secure and sanitized training zone in a bid to bring back the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball trophy to Mendiola.

Alen Mina (No. 22), of Letran attempts to grab a rebound against the San Beda Red Lions in Game 1 of the best-of-three finals of Season 95 NCAA seniors basketball tournament on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

The coach disclosed to The Manila Times on Friday in a phone interview that Red Lions team manager Jude Roque requested permission from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Department of Health (DoH) last May to house and train the players.

But dreams of a training “bubble” burst when the IATF-EID shot down the request.

“Even before, we requested for it. As far as I know, our team manager Jude Roque had filed a request to go for a ‘bubble’ setup last May, but the problem was, we didn’t get an approval from the [IATF-EID],” said Fernandez, who is also a registered nurse well aware of health and safety measures.

“We are strictly following the government’s guidelines and protocols. So, we didn’t pursue it,” added the coach, mindful of the controversy involving University of Sto. Tomas (UST) and the “Sorsogon bubble.”

UST administrators, Growling Tigers players and head coach Aldin Ayo are in hot water for allegedly violating quarantine protocols when the team trained in Sorsogon without permission from the IATF-EID and the DoH.

For now, San Beda has been sending online conditioning programs to the 25 Red Lions players, 20 of whom are staying fit in their respective provinces. Most notable is San Beda superstar and NCAA 2019 Most Valuable Player Calvin Oftana, who is presently in Dumaguete City. Keeping in shape, the 6’4” Oftana hopes to win the NCAA 2020 title by beating his average of 15.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks that helped the Red Lions achieve a rare 18-0 win-loss record in the elimination round.

San Beda needs to topple arch rival and defending champion Colegio de San Juan de Letran along with the other eight teams in the league.

“Our desire is to bring back the crown to Mendiola. We are not just thinking about Letran because there are many other schools in the NCAA,” Fernandez said.

However, crowns are still dream bubbles around the head until the coronavirus allows sporting events again.

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