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Wide open race seen in NAASCU

  • Written by Ed Andaya
  • Published in Basketball
  • Read: 461

EIGHT of the record 14 teams, led by perennial title contenders St. Clare College-Caloocan and Philippine Christian University, will strut their wares as the 16th NAASCU  basketball championship comes off the wraps tomorrow (Aug. 25) at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

St. Clare, which finished runner-up to Centro Escolar University in the last three years, will open its campaign  against comebacking AMA Computer University in the first game at 11 a.m.

PCU, which  underwent  massive  pre-season build-up that included a second-place finish in the MBL Open during summer, will test the mettle  of  another returning   team,  Lyceum  of Subic, in the fourth game at 4 p.m.
   
Other  opening-day  matches will pit Colegio de San Lorenzo against City University of Pasay at  1 p .m. and Philippine Merchant Marine School against Our Lady of Fatima University at 2:30 p.m.
   
The other six member-teams, which drew opening-day byes,  are Rizal  Technological University, Manuel Luis Quezon University,  New Era University, De Ocampo Memorial College,  EARIST  and   Enderun Colleges.
   
“NAASCU is bigger and better this year. This is the biggest in terms of membership with 14 teams from only eight last year and the biggest in  terms of events  with 10,”  said NAASCU chairman Ernesto  Jay Adalem of St.Clare.
   
Adalem also said the television coverage by Solar Sports and Basketball TV makes this year’s staging like no other in the league’s long history.
   
NAASCU commissioner Fritz Gaston  said  a wide  open  race is now expected  following the leave of absence of CEU.
   
Handled by coach Jinino Manansala, the Caloocan City-based Saints loom as the top favorite with a near intact line-up bannered by 6-6  Cameronian  center Steve Fongue.
   
Manansala, who  also  served  as consultant of MBL third-placer New  San  Jose  Builders, also  hopes to draw  the best from  his veteran-laden bench  that counts on  Mark Puspus, Aris Dionisio, Paeng Rebulio,  Nico Principe and  Jordan Rios.
   
Expected  to crowd  St. Clare for the  title are PCU Dolphins of the father-and-son  tandem of Loreto and Elvis Tolentino;  AMA Titans of coach Mark Herrera;RTU Blue Thunder of  coach  Johnedel Cardel;  OLFU  Phoenix  of  coach  Ralph  Emerson  Rivera; CdSL Blue Griffins of  coach  Boni Garcia;  and PMMS Mariners of coach  Aldrin Moran te.
   
MLQU  Stallions, another multi-titled  team  on the  comeback trail under coach Jimmy Manansala Jr., is the  tournament darkhorse.
   
Manansala, who is  best  remembered for  leading the  St. Clare  Baby Saints to the  NAASCU title in  2014, will lean on   the  high-scoring guard  Christopher Bitoon,  Niko Lao,  Ronnie Pangan ,  Justine  Padua,  Jeymark Mallari, Allen King de la Cruz, John Paul Balidoy and Daryl Aurelio.
   
CdSL,  on  the other hand,  will  pin  its hopes on  6-4 Kenneth Yemeli of Cameroon, 6-5 Jun  Gabriel  and  6-0  Mark Kenneth Carongoy.
   
Aside  from   basketball,  the  other  sports i n  the  NAASCU calendar are  volleyball,  athletics, swimmin g, chess,  badminton ,  table tennis, taekwondo,  street dance and cheer dance.