FOR THE 11th year in a row, the FilOil Flying V Premier Cup will heat up further the summer as all 18 schools from both the NCAA and UAAP have confirmed their participation in the tournament slated to tip off on April 29, 2017 (Saturday) at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City. Attention will be focused on defending champion De La Salle University after they won last year’s title via a clean sweep of all their games.
The Green Archers will now begin the post-Jeron Teng era but will still have last year’s tournament Most Valuable Player Benoit Mbala in harness. With the hulking Mbala around, the wards of second year coach Aldin Ayo will remain as heavy favorites.
The 18 participants have been bracketed in two separate groups of nine and will play a single round robin in the elimination phase for eight games. The top four in each group will then proceed to the crossover knockout playoffs culminating with the championship game on June 25, 2017.
DLSU has been placed in Group A together with bitter archrival Ateneo de Manila University, reigning NCAA champion San Beda College and unpredictable sides Jose Rizal University, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, University of Perpetual Help System-Dalta and Lyceum of the Philippines University from the NCAA and University of the East and University of Santo Tomas of the UAAP. Group B will be bannered by last year’s runner-up Arellano University together with fellow NCAA teams Emilio Aguinaldo College, Mapua Institute of Technology, College of Saint Benilde and San Sebastian College-Recoletos plus the UAAP’s University of the Philippines, Adamson University, Far Eastern University and National University.
Adding spice to the already spicy tournament is the first public appearance of the newly-organized Flying V Thunder of Coach Eric Altamirano. Composed of former collegiate standouts and tournament alumni, the Thunder will play selected teams but these will not count in the standings.
There will also be a Juniors Division that has attracted 12 schools and will follow a format similar to the Seniors Division. The action level is expected to rise since all the schools will be parading almost intact rosters from last season as the coming academic year welcomes the first batch of Grade 12 pupils since the K-12 program was implemented by the Department of Education.
Defending champion San Beda College-Rizal headlines Group A with Ateneo de Manila, La Salle Green Hills, Letran, Lyceum-Cavite and Nazareth School-NU. Group B has last year’s runner-up Adamson plus Arellano, FEU-Diliman, Malayan High School of Science, UST and UP Integrated School.
Edmundo “Ato” Badolato returns for another term as Commissioner assisted by Jose Sanchez, Aric del Rosario and Robert de la Rosa while Joey Guilllermo will serve as Tournament Director. Referees will be provided by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) wherein the FilOil Flying V Premier Cup is a regular member.
Each team may field up to 20 varsity-eligible players as they prepare for their respective mother leagues’ regular seasons. The final schedule will be released around April 15 or two weeks before the opening games.