Thursday, 27 June 2013 6 Comments
by JOSEF T. RAMOS
For this year’s 76th University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament, greatness will emerge starting on June 29.
De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas and National University are considered by many to challenge five-peat champion Ateneo De Manila University, but one cannot, must not, count out the University of the East, Far Eastern University, Adamson University, and University of the Philippines as well.
“All the teams are balance. That’s why I’m so excited. The players are also excited,” said newly-installed La Salle head coach Juno Sauler, who replaced Gee Abanilla. “If we work hard, I’m confident we can surprise anyone here.”
La Salle will battle UST in Saturday’s main game at 4pm after the opening match between UE and FEU at 2pm.
Defending champion Ateneo will face NU on Sunday in the main game right after the opening game between UP and Adamson.
“Box Office kami that’s what I can say, UST — Una sa Takilya,” said UST mentor Pido Jarencio, who drew laughter from the crowd.
Eric Altamirano, the mentor of the NU Bulldogs, believes NU has what it takes to become a champion this year.
“I think if there’s a year that we can win the championship, this is the year,” he said. “We’re humbled and grateful that we’re getting the team-to-beat tag, but we still have to prove ourselves and the players have to embrace it.”
Although his team was also tagged as a favorite, UE mentor Boyzie Zamar downplayed all predictions.
“Any team can do it,” said Zamar, who will parade Roi Sumang and Sierra Leonean Charles Mammie. “We just need to improve on our seventh place from last season.”
FEU head coach Nash Racela, who will rely on Terrence Romeo and RR Garcia, said FEU will be taking the steps towards the right direction and take things one game at a time.
The Fighting Maroons of coach Ricky Dandan, meanwhile, are the youngest squad this season.
“I don’t think the coaches will disagree with me that the Fighting Maroons are the underdogs,” he said. “But the ‘fighting’ is back with UP.”
Leo Austria, mentor of Adamson, this year’s host, echoed the general sentiments that all teams have a chance to contend for the title.
With so many squads ready and able to contend not just for Final Four berths but for the crown itself, Season 76 is primed to be one of the most competitive and unpredictable in the history of the UAAP. (EF/Inboundpass.com)