MANILA, Philippines – The seventh season of the FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup will tip off on Saturday, April 13, at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan with an explosive triple-header featuring top collegiate teams.
Reigning NCAA three-peat champions San Beda will open the tournament against National University at 2 p.m., followed by a clash between the De La Salle University and the University of Sto. Tomas at 4 p.m.
In the 6 p.m. nightcap, five-peat UAAP champions Ateneo will take on guest team Southwestern University.
The Red Lions will be led by new head coach Boyet Fernandez, but will welcome back old players Anthony and David Semerad, who have returned to San Beda following a botched transfer to Ateneo two seasons ago.
The Semerad twins are expected to provide much-needed experience and depth this coming college basketball season for Fernandez, especially after the Red Lions lost Jake Pascual, Anjo Caram and Melo Lim to graduation.
Meanwhile, defending FilOil champions National University will parade a new Cameroonian forward/center, Alfred Arogo, who is taking the spot of the injured Henri Betayene in the rotation.
La Salle, who will showcase new recruit Kib Montalbo, expect to face a tough UST squad that is a year older and hungrier after being denied by Ateneo in the last UAAP season.
The new look Blue Eagles, meanwhile, will face off Cebu-side SWU Cobras and its 6-foo-10 center, Siewe Armel, who replaced Ben Mbala after the latter transferred to De La Salle.
Ateneo will be coached by former Powerade mentor Bo Perasol and will be led by Kiefer Ravena, Ryan Buenafe and Juami Tiongson.
But the reigning UAAP champions are sorely lacking in the height department after losing centers Greg Slaughter and Justin Chua to graduation, along with high-scoring forward Nico Salva and defensive-minded wings Oping Sumalinog and Tonino Gonzaga.
The FilOil tournament will also feature a juniors division, and for the first time, a women’s division.
Participating teams include Adamson University, Ateneo de Manila University, Centro Escolar University, College of St. Benilde, De La Salle University, Far Eastern University, Lyceum of the Philippines University, National University, University of the Philippines and the University of Sto. Tomas.