MANILA – Coming on the heels of his Saint Clare College of Caloocan Saints’ championship in the just-concluded 16th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU), league chairperson Dr. Ernesto Jay Adalem is now batting for a tournament that would determine the one true national college champion. “I have suggested to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to revive the National Inter-Collegiate Championship,” said Dr. Adalem.
For many decades, the said tournament sometimes referred to as the National Students was staged by the Basketball Association of the Philippines as the ultimate tournament wherein representatives from all the regions converged in one venue for a weeklong competition in both the college and high school divisions. With the BAP losing its status as the sole national sports association, the SBP designated the Philippine Collegiate Champions League as the tournament to crown the national champion.
However, the PCCL has been silent since the fiasco last year that saw the declaration of co-champions San Beda College and Far Eastern University after a typhoon forced the cancellation of the semifinal games. Add to that the other controversies besetting the tournament that include among others the shabby treatment of provincial schools as well as the what is perceived by many as an unfair format that favors the big Metro Manila schools.
“We will only invite champion teams and make it a true battle of the champions,” added Dr. Adalem. “As a basketball stakeholder and SBP member, NAASCU is willing to take the lead in organizing the games.”
Meanwhile, the champion Saints have no plans of resting and will immediately begin preparations for their title defense next year. “We are planning to again join tournaments like Got Skills or Father Martin because these offseason tournaments helped us a lot in reaching our goal of winning the NAASCU,” said Coach Jinino Manansala.
Only Jordan Rios and team captain Bong Managuelod are sure of not returning next season after maxing on their eligibility. Most Valuable Player Aris Dionisio, Mythical Five member Paeng Rebugio and Rookie of the Year Rojay Santos are expected to form a solid young core that will install Saint Clare as a contender for years to come.