FIVE-time straight champion San Beda College Red Lions will start their title defense when they face host Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals while last year’s runner-up Arellano University Chiefs battle the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers today as the 91st season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament unfolds today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Red Lions, hoping to become the first team to win six straight titles will collide with the Cardinals at 1 p.m. followed by the Arellano Chiefs versus the Heavy Bombers match at 3 p.m.
Six new coaches will start their campaign in the oldest collegiate league in the country this year. Aldin Ayo will mentor the Letran Knights, Andy de Guzman will coach the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals replacing Gerald Esplana, Jamike Jarin guides the Red Lions replacing Boyet Fernandez who is now coaching the NLEX Road Warriors in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). Rodney Santos will now be mentoring the San Sebastian College Stags after Topex Robinson agreed to coach the Lyceum of the Philippines Pirates. The Lapu-Lapu City native Santos, once known as the “Slasher” in the PBA, was also a member of the Stags in the early 1990’s.
Mapua chief executive and NCAA President Reynaldo Vea said that a lavish opening ceremony would usher in the new season bearing the theme: NCAA Engineered for Sports Excellence in the New Decade.”
“We’re expecting a more exciting NCAA season not just in basketball but in other sports as well,” said Vea, who has just inked a 10-year contract with ABS-CBN as the league’s official broadcasting partner.
Emilio Aguinaldo College and Lyceum of the Philippines were also admitted as regular member of the NCAA this year.
The games will be played every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with a total of seven seniors game a week. After the opening day, the games will move to the league’s regular venue at The Arena in San Juan City.