Reigning champion San Beda College will face host school San Sebastian College as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 93 men’s basketball tournament opens today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Red Lions – Golden Stags collision was set at 2 p.m. right after the 12 noon opening rites. NCAA president and policy board chairman Fr. Nemesio Tolentino will lead the ceremony.
Returning coach Boyet Fernandez, who filled up the void left by Jamike Jarin, is banking on the prowess of Robert Bolick, Jayvee Mocon, AC Soberano, Jomari Presbitero, Ben Adamos, Davon Potts, Cameroonians Arnauh Noah and Donald Tankoua as the Red Lions start their campaign this season.
“It is really tough to play in an opening game because there will be so many factors that could distract the players,” Fernandez, who led San Beda to its dominance of the NCAA in 2013 and 2014, told The Manila Times through a text message.
Fernandez left San Beda in 2015 to coach the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) in the Philippine Basketball Association. Jarin replaced him and remained San Beda coach until Season 92.
“We simply have to be ready for the game. It will be tough, but we will give our very best to secure the opening game win,” Fernandez added.
San Sebastian, on the other hand, is locked and loaded for the opening day with the 6’6 forward Michael Calisaan leading the Stags’ charge along with Ryan Costelo, Jerick Fabian, Jayson David and Alvin Capobres.
The Stags, who finished the elimination round last year with an 8-10 record, are aiming for a Final Four seat this season under coach Egay Macaraya.
In the other match, Arellano University is also keen to score an opening day win against Mapua Institute of Technology at 4 p.m. The Chiefs will miss the services of Jio Jalalon who is now playing with the Star Hotshots in the PBA.
Kent Salado and Lervin Flores are expected to lead Arellano against Mapua.
The Cardinals, under coach Atoy Co are optimistic of their chances to reach the Final Four again even without two-time Most Valuable Player Allwell Oraeme and Shane Menina.