ATENEO opens its coronavirus-stalled quest for a four-peat as it plays Katipunan rival University of the Philippines in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament on March 26 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Blue Eagles and the Fighting Maroons, who battled in the Season 81 Finals in 2018, cross paths in the third of a heavy four-game opening day bill at 4 p.m.
While Ateneo has Tab Baldwin, who is currently the longest-tenured coach in the league, Goldwin Monteverde, a successful high school mentor, will finally make his collegiate debut for UP.
Derrick Pumaren, who steered La Salle to back-to-back championships in 1989-90, will make his UAAP comeback against University of the East, now mentored by Jack Santiago, in a night game at 7 p.m.
Other opening day matches are the 10 a.m. clash between a rebuilding University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University, and the 1 p.m. tussle between National University and Adamson.
Jinino Manansala (Growling Tigers), Jeff Napa (Bulldogs) and Nash Racela (Falcons) will also make their coaching debuts in the compressed tournament which will last until early May.
As announced last month, fans and cheering squads at the Pasay venue are prohibited as the UAAP is holding its men’s basketball tournament in a bubble. However, the league said that there is a possibility that the policy could change during the season.
The first rivalry game of the season between the Blue Eagles and the Green Archers – this time in a closed-door setting – is set at 7 p.m. on April 2.
The rematch of the Season 82 championship between Ateneo and UST is set at 4 p.m. on April 9. The Eagles swept the Tigers en route in completing a 16-0 sweep in 2019.
Another marquee match-up, between UP and La Salle, has a 10 a.m. tip-off on April 7. The Maroons have won their last four meetings with the Archers.
One of the league’s major adjustments is to expand its men’s basketball roster to 20 players this season – with four reserves to replace any student-athlete who contracted COVID during the tournament.
Once the basketball tournament is over, the UAAP will then proceed to its other events, which includes cheerdance, men’s beach volleyball, men’s and women’s 3×3 basketball, poomsae and men’s and women’s chess.
Games March 26
(Mall of Asia Arena)
10 a.m. – FEU vs UST
1 p.m. – AdU vs NU
4 p.m. – Ateneo vs UP
7 p.m. – DLSU vs UE