FOUR-time straight champion San Beda College Red Lions remain the strong favorite when the 90th season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament opens on June 28 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Red Lions, hoping to become the only second team to win championship five times straight will face host Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers at 1 p.m. while the other seniors match pits the San Sebastian College Stags against the Letran Knights at 3 p.m.
San Sebastian Stags is the only team that won five championships consecutively, from 1993 to 1998 during the time of Rommel Adducul, in the oldest collegiate league in the country.
Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) and Lyceum University of the Philippines are also expected to become full members of the league this coming NCAA season.
EAC and Lyceum are both aiming for regular membership following the example of Arellano University that gained a regular status early this year after an exceptional finish in many tournaments and meeting all the requirements by the league.
“We have lost some players including our team captain Rome de la Rosa. But we still have the majority of last year’s champion squad. We hope our veterans can lead us to another successful campaign,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez during the press conference held at the MOA Arena.
“This year’s theme is ‘Today’s Heroes, Tomorrow’s Legends, NCAA@90: We Make History,” Dr. Vincent Pabella, President of host Jose Rizal University said.
The Heavy Bombers also aim to end their 42-year long title drought. They last won an NCAA championship in 1972 during the time of Philip Cesar and Edgardo Carvajal.
Besides San Beda College, San Sebastian College, Letran College and Jose Rizal University, the other members of the league are Mapua Institute of Technology, College of Saint Benilde and University of Perpetual Help.