LETRAN may be aching to defend its NCAA title but the truth is, it will benefit the Knights more if the league's next season will be pushed back to mid-2021.
NCAA rules stipulate that redshirting transferees need at least a full academic year to be eligible, which, in the case of new Letran recruits like Rhenz Abando, Brent Paraiso, and Ira Bataller, means that they need to study in Muralla for two semesters before becoming eligible to suit up for the Knights.
That also means that if the staging of NCAA Season 96, curiously hosted by Letran, is pushed back beyond May 2021, the three former University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers can be part of the Knights' title-retention bid.
Such a scenario will be bad news for Letran's rivals since it will see Abando, Paraiso, and Bataller share the court with graduating players like Larry Muyang, Jeo Ambohot, and Ato Ular in the Knights' quest for back-to-back NCAA crowns.
That potential powerhouse Knights side will also include last year's Finals MVP Fran Yu, who still has two years left in his collegiate career at Letran.
The same rules apply to other transferees like Jun Asuncion, who bolted University of Santo Tomas for Mapua; Will Gozum who left University of the Philippines for St. Benilde; and JV Gallego who left National University for San Beda.
NCAA officials have pencilled the start of the next season in the first quarter of 2021, although the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for Emerging Infectious Diseases have allowed collegiate teams to return to practice.
NCAA chairman Fr. Vic Calvo, OP of Letran has already mandated members of the league's Management Committee (Mancom) to draft protocols that will govern the varsity teams' first training since the outbreak of the pandemic.
"I have instructed Mr. Paul Supan of Jose Rizal University and Mr. Hercules Callanta of Lyceum to represent NCAA in a CHED commitee to craft guidelines for the college practices," he said.
"But as of now, our position is no face-to-face classes, no practice."
Resumption of the games, however, is still a big question mark as the country continues its battle against COVID-19.