A BLOCKBUSTER four-game bill will usher in the 16th season of the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) basketball tournament on Thursday (August 25) at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. Season host Saint Clare College of Caloocan will open its title drive against AMA University in the opening game that will be preceded by an hour-long opening ceremony at 9:00 AM.
While Saint Clare and AMA remain among the league’s founding members in 2001, the league is proud of the massive expansion program it undertook in the offseason that saw the membership balloon to an all-time high of 14 varsities. The NAASCU thus welcomed in Philippine Merchant Marine School, De Ocampo Memorial College, Enderun Colleges, Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology, Manuel L. Quezon University and Colegio de San Lorenzo.
Completing the roster are regular members City University of Pasay, Lyceum of Subic Bay, New Era University, Our Lady of Fatima University, Philippine Christian University and last season’s overall champion Rizal Technological University. Basketball legend Matthew “Fritz” Gaston has been appointed as Commissioner while referees and staff from the PBA D-League have been tapped to take care of the officiating.
The newcomers will immediately see action on opening day with San Lorenzo meeting Pasay in the second game at 11:30 AM and PMMS testing Fatima at 1:00 PM. The quadruple bill will be capped by the clash between Lyceum-Subic and PCU at 2:30 PM.
The remaining six teams will play on Friday (August 26) at the Jesus Christ Saves Global Outreach Gym in Cubao, Quezon City. MLQU meets DOMC in the 8:00 AM opener followed by RTU and New Era at 9:30 AM and Enderun versus EARIST at 11:00 AM.
Games in the centerpiece Seniors Division will be played every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mainly at the Makati Coliseum and RTU gym with selected game days at Enderun and Subic Bay. The games will be televised over Basketball TV every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM and on Solar Sports every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM.
Tournament format calls for a single round robin elimination with the top eight teams advancing to the stepladder playoffs. The championship will be a best-of-three affair sometime in October.
Meanwhile, 10 teams will compete in the Junior Division for players aged 19 years and under composed of Saint Clare, AMA, New Era, Fatima, RTU, PCU, PMMS, DOMC, MLQU and CDSL. The Women’s Division will feature seven teams in RTU, Enderun, EARIST, PMMS, Saint Clare, Fatima and AMA.