THE NATIONAL Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) will open its 15th season on September 4, 2015 (Friday) at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. This year’s host is New Era University.
The face off of last season’s champion Centro Escolar University and the host Hunters will highlight the opening day schedules starting at 8:00 AM. Completing this year’s eight-team cast are last year’s runner-up Saint Clare College of Caloocan, Rizal Technological University, Our Lady of Fatima University, City University of Pasay and second-year members Philippine Christian University and Diliman College (formerly Diliman Computer Technology Institute).
Centro Escolar is the heavy preseason favorite to score a rare three-peat after winning crowns the past two seasons. In the offseason, the Scorpions’ key players formed the core of the CaféFrance Bakers that won the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup and also topped the eliminations of the 2015 FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup.
Saint Clare will again try to unseat CEU and reclaim the title they last won in 2012. Despite losing important players, the majority of the Saints’ rotation is back reinforced by members of last year’s Junior Division champion Junior Saints.
This year’s basketball tournament will offer a new format wherein the eight schools will play a single-round elimination phase. Instead of a second round, the top two will advance directly to the semifinals while the next four will go through the quarterfinals.
The championship will be a best-of-three affair. The tournament is expected to end around the first week of October just before the final examinations for the first semester.
Competitions will be conducted in the Seniors, Juniors for players aged 19 and under and Women. In the second semester, the NAASCU will hold a high school tournament for students enrolled in Grades Eight to 12.
Member schools with K-12 programs are expected to field entries. Invitations will also be extended to non-NAASCU members.
While a lot of attention is being heaped on CEU and Saint Clare, Diliman College and PCU hope to prove that there is no “sophomore jinx”. Both schools have undergone massive retooling in the offseason and look like instant contenders.
The Blue Dragons also had their share of success outside of the NAASCU by winning trophies the National Collegiate Basketball League (NCBL) and the Millennium Basketball League (MBL). On the other hand, the Dolphins replaced their entire roster as they finally had the chance to bring in recruits after they were admitted to the league just weeks before the season opener.
In a major development, the NAASCU makes a return to free TV via IBC-13 on a slightly delayed basis. This is an improvement from the past years where the league was shown either on cable television, UHF channels or live streamed on the internet.
The success of the NAASCU squads in offseason varsity and commercial tournaments definitely has stirred the public’s interest that there is talent in the league. For sure, Season 15 will be another banner season.