IT WILL be the turn of San Sebastian College-Recoletos to play host as the 93rd National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) season opens its doors this Saturday (July 8) at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. The hosts have drawn a formidable opening day assignment in defending champion San Beda College, easily the hands down choice by league coaches as the heavy favorite to win it all again this year.
The 2:00 PM San Beda-San Sebastian clash will be followed by a game between last year’s losing finalists Arellano University against Mapua University at 4:00 PM, two schools that are on a rebuilding mode after losing the top players that took them deep into playoffs last time. This season’s theme is “NCAA Strong @ Season 93”.
San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez is making a return to the league after spending the last three seasons coaching in the professional ranks. He hopes to continue his personal winning ways after nailing a back-to-back in 2012 and 2013 and welcomes his fellow coaches’ assessment of his Red Lions’ chances.
“I have yet to see the other teams except during the preseason tournaments,” said Coach Fernandez. “Everyone has improved since I last coached in the NCAA.”
After San Beda, NCAA coaches point to the likes of host San Sebastian, Lyceum of the Philippines University and Jose Rizal University as most likely to challenge for the crown owing to their impressive stints in the recent FilOil Flying V Premier Cup. Still, a competitive race is still expected as even last season’s bottom tier teams have shown signs of brilliance in the lead up to opening day.
A major innovation this season is the introduction of “NCAA On Tour” wherein the member schools will take turns at hosting official games inside their campuses or venue of choice. League officials have vowed that all venues are up to competition standards and that security measures will be in full force for everyone’s sake.
Come the second semester, the NCAA will hold a special tournament for 3X3 basketball for players aged 16 and below. This will be held together with a kiddie basketball tournament for players of the same age around January or February, 2018.
The NCAA has also reenlisted the services of Arturo Cristobal as this season’s Basketball Commissioner. Referees will come from the BRASCU.
Games will be played every Tuesday and Friday with the FilOil Flying Centre in San Juan City as the main venue. Thursdays will be for the “NCAA On Tour” games.
The Opening Day Rosters (Seniors):
ARELLANO – Richard Abanes, Rence Alcoriza, Michael Canete, Archie Concepcion, Levi de la Cruz, Allen Enriquez, Lervin Flores, Brylle Meca, Zach Nicholls, Elie Ongolo-Ongolo, Carl Padilla, Renzil Rivera, Kent Salado, Marvin Taywan and Kraniel Villoria.
EMILIO AGUINALDO – Haspee Altiche, Juju Bautista, Rustan Bugarin, Dan Corilla, Jeric Diego, Jerome Garcia, Jervin Guzman, Hamadou Laminou, Irvin Mendoza, Jethro Mendoza, Francis Munsayac, Sean Neri, Sidney Onwubere, Raymond Pascua and Renzo Tampoc.
JOSE RIZAL – Razak Abdulwahab, Abdoul Poutouochi, Karl Bordon, Lloyd Castor, Richard David, MJ de la Virgen, Ervin Grospe, Gio Lasquety, Jomer Mariano, Ivan Mate, Jonathan Mendoza, Philip Pontejos, Abdul Wadud Sawat, Aren Paul Sibangan and Bernabe Teodoro.
LETRAN – Jeo Ambohot, Christian Balagasay, Jerrick Balanza, Matthew Bernabe, JP Calvo, King Caralipio, Joshua de Villa, Tommy Gedaria, Alex Mandreza, Rey Nambatac, Christian Pamulaklakin, Daryl Pascual, Bong Quinto, Jeremiah Taladua and Lance Vacaro.
LYCEUM – Mer Jesper Ayaay, Wilson Baltazar, Reymar Caduyac, Kim Cinco, Nino Ibanez, Aldrich Liwag, Edcor Marata, Jaycee Marcelino, Jayvee Marcelino, CJ Perez, Spencer Pretta, Jeffrey Santos, Jeric Serrano, Ralph Tansingco and Mike Harry Nzeusseu.
MAPUA – Denniel Jay Aguirre, Christian Bunag, Andrew Estrella, Hesed Gabo, Marvel Jimenez, Kim Magboo, JP Nieles, Almel Orquina, Cedric Pelayo, JR Raflores and Laurenz Victoria.
PERPETUAL HELP – Niko Cabiltes, Christian Casas, Robert Clemente, AJ Coronel, Gab Dagangon, Prince Eze, Jack Hao, Kervin Lucente, Rommel Mangalino, Keith Pido, Flash Sadiwa, Daryl Singontiko, Antonio Tamayo, JG Ylagan and Jonathan Yuhico.
SAINT BENILDE – Kendrix Belgica, Bryeo Bunyi, Gerard Castor, Edward Dixon, JJ Domingo, Matthew Johnson, Yankie Haruna, Clement Leutcheu, Unique Naboa, Eric Pili, Dino San Juan, Rene Sta. Maria, Carl Suarez, Carlo Young and Luigi Velasco.
SAN BEDA – Franz Abuda, Benedict Adamos, JB Bahio, Robert Bolick, Jeramer Cabanag, Kenmark Carino, Clint Doliguez, Javee Mocon, Arnaud Noah, Calvin Oftana, Davon Potts, Jose Mari Presbitero, AC Soberano, Donald Tankoua and Ranbill Tongco.
SAN SEBASTIAN – Michael Are, Alvin Baetiong, Kevin Baytan, Allyn Bulanadi, Michael Calisaan, John Michael Calma, AJ Capobres, Ryan Costelo, Jayson David, Alfren Gayosa, RK Ilagan, Justine Mercado, Lorenzo Navarro, Bryan Quipse and Ian Valdez.