Hopeful Almadro not forcing return of 5th year Lady Eagles
MANILA, Philippines – Oliver Almadro, the head coach of the Ateneo women’s volleyball team, said he is managing his expectations on the possible return of his veteran student-athletes in UAAP Season 83.
Speaking with Rappler in an exclusive interview, Almadro noted he will wait for the final ruling of the UAAP on the extension of eligibility for student-athletes before discussing with his senior players if they plan to suit up again in 2021.
The Lady Eagles have 4 players – Kat Tolentino and Jamie Lavitoria (age limit) and Jho Maraguinot and Pauline Gaston (fifth year) – whose final campaigns were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m sure they will consider it, but I cannot impose right away [or say] ‘Yes, they will play,’” said Almadro.
On Wednesday, June 3, Rappler broke the news that the UAAP Board of Managing Directors is deliberating to give conditional extensions for student-athletes whose fifth and final playing year abruptly ended, and likewise for those who will be above the 25-year-old age limit in Season 83.
Whatever proposal they come up with must also be approved by the UAAP Board of Trustees. A final decision isn’t expected to be made soon. (READ: UAAP eyes eligibility, age limit extension)
“We’re just waiting for the official statement of the UAAP as well as the official statement coming from our UAAP board members,” Almadro said.
“When everything on my part, on the part of the UAAP board members, and the UAAP, and if it’s really official – in writing and everything – then I will [tell] my players, ‘Oh, these are the rules. Would you consider waiting for one more year again and then play for your last playing year?’”
Almadro explained that until there is a final verdict, it is difficult for him to ask his senior players about their UAAP future.
“If we [say], ‘Enroll again, it’s because there might be a chance for you to play again’ – what if it doesn’t push through and they have other plans?” said Almadro.
“Enrollment in Ateneo is hard. The process is also hard. Entering a Master’s Degree program, they have to take an exam as well.
“In Ateneo, things are not instant like, ‘Oh, just play!’ Instant like you’re already part of the team, you’re immediately enrolled – it’s not like that. Especially now that we have no physical enrollment; it’s online enrollment, online learning.”
The UAAP also revealed that it will monitor how its representing schools bounce back from the pandemic in September before deciding on the future of Season 83. (READ: September UAAP opening looks unlikely, league officials say)
If and when the opportunity presents itself for Almadro to have that conversation with his veterans, he plans to lay out both the advantages and disadvantages of coming back.
“I will tell what’s in store for them, and I will tell them that these are the teachings of Ateneo: to give it all no matter the cost, and to do magis,” he said.
“I have to manage my expectations. That’s how I am, I don’t want to [say], ‘Yes, they’ll return,’ and then they decide otherwise, like they end up having other plans. I’ll just get hurt, the community will get hurt, and the fans will get hurt.”
Almadro won a championship in his first season with the Lady Eagles by coaching them to a finals victory over University of Sto Tomas.
Ateneo entered Season 82 as a defending champion expected to make it back to the finals – or at least the Final Four – led by a veteran cast of standouts.
While Almadro isn’t certain of what Tolentino and company will decide, he is confident they will strongly consider returning for a final go.
“I’m sure if everything will be clear, I’m sure the players will be excited also to play and represent Ateneo on their last playing year,” he said.
“This is the year when after the last game of the season they will go to the school, they will say their signing off speech… they’re waiting for this, and they know they can help the team.” – Rappler.com