IT WILL be the Saint Clare College of Caloocan Saints that will be tasked to carry the torch for the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) in the coming 2015 Philippine Collegiate Champions League starting December 10 (Thursday) at the Technological Institute of the Philippines-Manila and First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities in Tanauan City, Batangas. Saints coach Jino Manansala confirmed his squad’s participation in the annual tournament that seeks to determine the one true champion of Philippine college basketball.
UPDATED SCHEDULE (as of December 2, 2016)
December 10 @ TIP-Manila Gym
4:00 PM versus TIP-Manila
December 12 @ FAITH-Tanauan City
2:00 PM versus Mapua Tech
The Saints will field a combined roster of players from both their Senior and Junior teams that both registered runner-up finishes this 15th season plus a couple of newcomers. Leading the way for Saint Clare is 15th NAASCU Senior Mythical Five member Bong Managuelod with support from Aris Dionisio, 14th NAASCU Senior Rookie of the Year Earvin Mendoza and 14th NAASCU Junior Most Valuable Player Nico Galvelo.
Also on the team is 15th NAASCU Junior Mythical Five member Ramil Tero and 6’6” Cameroonian exchange student Steve Fongue. Completing the line-up are Mark Puspus, Michael de Leon, Heinz Umbreit, Leonardo Esguerra, Normel de los Reyes, Justin Padua, Rojay Santos and new players Dave Tecson and Junjie Hallare with assistant coaches JR Manansala and Tonton Sangco.
Saint Clare has been drawn to play NCAA Final Four team Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals and NCBL runner-up Technological Institute of the Philippines Engineers. The three teams will play a single round amongst themselves with the top team advancing to the next round where they will meet qualifiers from North and South Luzon.
Three other teams – Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers of the NCAA, National University Bulldogs of the UAAP and ISAA champion PATTS College of Aeronautics Seahorses – will also see action in another grouping. They will also undergo the same format.
Last season, Coach Manansala and the Saints went on an impressive five-game winning streak only to be stopped in their tracks by NAASCU rival Centro Escolar University, 68-56, also in Tanauan City. This time, the Saints hope to go deeper into the tournament and crack the Elite Eight.
Already seeded into the Elite Eight are defending champion San Beda College and Colegio de San Juan de Letran of the NCAA, University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University of the UAAP and University of San Carlos of the CeSAFI. Two slots are reserved for qualifiers from Luzon and Metro Manila while the final slot will go to the winner of the qualifier involving schools from the Visayas and Mindanao.