In Season 80 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), probably no competition grabbed our attention more than men’s basketball. We watched a Final Four where the losing teams went on the brink of making it to the Finals. Then the Finals itself was decided in the last few minutes of game three.
This UAAP Season 81 officially starts on September 8 at the Mall of Asia. What can we expect from men’s basketball?
Having been crowned champion in Season 80, the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles seem to have become taller with new additions 6’10” Angelo Kouame and 6’5” Matthew Daves. On the other hand, De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers are not lamenting the loss of Ben Mbala. The Archers also have a new big guy in the person of 6’8” Taane Samuel who hails from New Zealand. DLSU also has former high school standout Encho Serrano who, despite being just 5’11”, has been called the Derrick Rose of the Philippines. He will be making his UAAP debut.
Probably the happiest team with a new member is the National University (NU), which initially saw Gilas Cadet Troy Rike being ineligible to play due to lack of clearance papers from the Department of Justice (DOJ). In the nick of time, however, Rike has gotten his Filipino certificate and can play for NU in Season 81.
We already know about pretty boy Ricci Rivero transferring to the University of the Philippines (UP), but he won’t play until next season. Former San Beda Red Lion William Navarro, who stands at 6’5” will now wear an ADMU jersey.
The most noteworthy transferee is not a player, though, but a coach in the person of Aldin Ayo, who has moved from title contender DLSU to last season’s tough-luck cellar-dweller University of Santo Tomas (UST).
A New Commissioner
New UAAP Basketball Commissioner Junel Baculi looks familiar: Oh yeah, he coached Globalport in the PBA. He takes over the post from Atty. Rebo Saguisag.
It would be much too hasty to make a fearless forecast on which teams should make the Final Four based on the teams’ lineups. One thing we can depend on is that competition among the teams will be even fiercer. Excitement in men’s basketball in this collegiate league will be even more palpable. This is UAAP Season 81 with its theme of “It All Begins Here.”
Featured image by MANILA BULLETIN.