A BUSY summer 2014 awaits the basketball teams of the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU). With the league continuing to grow in stature in the college basketball community, its teams have been invited to participate in prestigious pre-season tournaments as they build up for the 14th season this coming academic year.
For the first time, the NAASCU will be represented in the FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup, the annual summer tournament that used to be limited to entries from the NCAA and UAAP. Reigning champion Centro Escolar University and runner-up Saint Clare College of Caloocan hope to show that they can ball with the best of the other leagues.
Tournament format calls for the 21 participating schools to be placed in three groups of seven, with the top two of each group plus two wildcards advancing to the knockout stages. CEU and Saint Clare are in Group C and B respectively, with all games played at the San Juan Arena.
The Scorpions of Coach Edgar Macaraya are scheduled to face Emilio Aguinaldo College (April 28), College of Saint Benilde (May 2), UP-Diliman (May 5), Holy Trinity College (May 14), National University (May 21) and San Sebastian College (May 26). The Saints of Coach Jinino Manansala have Lyceum of the Philippines University (May 3), San Beda College (May 5), Mapua Institute of Technology (May 12), the Philippine Youth Team (May 14), Letran College (May 21) and Far Eastern University (May 28) as opponents.
The champion CEU Lady Scorpions of Coach Jay Cambarihan and runner-up Rizal Technological University Lady Thunder of Coach Julian Bagares are entered in the Women’s Division. Both NAASCU squads are bracketed in Group A with the top two out of five advancing to the knockout crossover semifinals against the best two of Group B.
The core of the Scorpions is currently seeing action also in the PBA D-League as the Café France Bakers. This marks their seventh consecutive conference of participation being one of the league’s founders back in 2011.
The Saints are also playing in the 20th Father Martin Summer Cup. They lost their first assignment against National, 56-67, last April 10 but hope to bounce back in their succeeding dates with Diliman Preparatory School, San Beda College, University of Santo Tomas, San Sebastian College, Trinity University of Asia and the Philippine Youth Team.
Meanwhile, the Millennium Basketball League (MBL) Open Conference fired off last March 22 and has attracted the Junior Scorpions of Coach Yong Garcia, Our Lady of Fatima University Phoenix of Coach Ralph Emerson Rivera and Polytechnic University of the Philippines Stars of Coach Arnold Rodriguez. A tough road is expected as the youngsters will be playing against teams loaded with former professional players and commercial league veterans.
The Third Philippine Chinese Amateur Basketball League (PCABL) Dickies Cup began last February 23 and as of this posting, the CEU Lady Scorpions are in a share of the lead with the University of Santo Tomas in the six-school tournament with similar 6-1 records. The Lady Phoenix of Coach Magelyn Manrique are also taking part along with Far Eastern University, College of Saint Benilde and defending champion De La Salle University.
In all of the abovementioned tournaments, the NAASCU teams are expected to field almost the same rosters from Season 13. This is because of a new league ruling raising the age limit to 24 for the Seniors and 19 for the Juniors effective this year.
The teams are set to take full advantage of the opportunity given them to further hone their skills in preparation for the real battles ahead. This early, the 14th NAASCU looks to raise the level of competition with several schools in negotiations to join the ever dynamic league.