THREE-consecutive year champion San Beda College Red Lions will test their mettle against host College of Saint Benilde Blazers while archrivals San Sebastian College Stags and Collegio de San Juan Letran Knights will renew their battle in the opening day of the 89th season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) seniors basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Saturday.
Both the four-peat seeking Red Lions and the Blazers will be under new coaches when they collide at 4 p.m. The Stags and the Knights will square off at 6 p.m. The opening day rites will commence at 2:30 p.m.
Former Sta. Lucia Realty head coach Boyet Fernandez will now be mentoring the Red Lions replacing Ronnie Magsanoc while the 2000 champion Blazers will now be coached by Gabby Velasco.
“It’s really important for us to win our first game because it will serve as a fitting inspiration for the rest of the season,” said Fernandez, who guided Sta. Lucia Realty to the Philippine Cup championship in the Philippine Basketball Association in 2007.
Letran, on the other hand, will have Caloy Garcia as new coach while Topex Robinson is returning Stags’ mentor.
“We are hoping for another successful staging of the NCAA. I firmly believe this is possible because of the strong bond and supports of all member schools in the league,” said Bro. Dennis Magbanua of host Saint Benilde College.