COLLEGE BASKETBALL fans can wait no longer as the 10th FilOil Flying V Premier Cup unfolds on April 30 (Saturday) at the San Juan Arena. All eyes will be on the 16 participating teams from the NCAA and UAAP as they prepare for their respective league’s coming seasons later this year.
Defending champion San Beda College headlines Group B along with last year’s runner-up De La Salle University and reigning NCAA champion Colegio de San Juan de Letran. Completing the group are Adamson University, Ateneo de Manila University and University of the East of the UAAP and Mapua Institute of Technology and Lyceum of the Philippines University of the NCAA.
Group A will consist of NCAA sides Arellano University, Emilio Aguinaldo College, University of Perpetual Help System-Dalta, College of Saint Benilde and San Sebastian College and UAAP champion Far Eastern University, National University and University of the Philippines-Diliman. Begging off for various reasons this year are University of Santo Tomas and Jose Rizal University.
Tournament format calls for the teams to play a single round robin amongst their group mates for seven games each. The top four teams from both groups will advance to the knockout playoffs that will culminate with the championship game on June 12 (Sunday).
Opening day fixtures pit DLSU against Adamson at 10:00 AM followed by Ateneo versus UE at 2:00 PM. While the players have always been the focus of the tournament, the coaches this year will also get a lot of attention after a lot of offseason changes.
DLSU will be parading new coach Aldin Ayo, who was responsible for Letran’s successful 2015 NCAA title run, against Adamson’s Franz Pumaren, the same man who steered the Green Archers to countless titles a decade ago. Letran has tapped champion high school coach Jeff Napa of Nazareth School-NU to replace Coach Ayo.
National coach Tab Baldwin will sit on the Ateneo bench as a “consultant” with long-time assistant Sandy Arespacochaga expected to be named as head coach. Last season’s Ateneo Coach Bo Perasol, will reunite with his alma mater UP-Diliman.
Another former varsity star returning to coach his school is Edgar Macaraya at San Sebastian, who carries with him an impressive resume as a five-time NAASCU champion coach with San Sebastian-Cavite and Centro Escolar University. Rounding out the newcomer coaches are Aris Sison, who has been promoted as EAC Seniors coach after a stint with their Juniors squad, and Antonio Tamayo who will coach the very same school he owns, Perpetual Help.
Meanwhile, 10 high schools will dispute the Juniors Division title led by defending champion De La Salle-Zobel. The Junior Archers are bracketed in Group B with archrival Ateneo de Manila, NCAA champion San Beda-Rizal, Lyceum-Cavite and Adamson while Group A is headed by last year’s runner-up Malayan High School of Science, UAAP champion Nazareth School-NU, Far Eastern University, Immaculate Conception Academy-EAC and La Salle Green Hills.
The Juniors will also play a single round among their group mates with the top two of both groups advancing to the knockout crossover semifinals. The Juniors championship game will also be on June 12.