MANILA, Philippines – Five college teams will be making their debut in the country’s most prestigious pre-season tournament when the eighth season of the FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup tips off on April 23 at the San Juan Arena.
Among the 43 squads – including 21 seniors, 10 women’s and 12 high school teams – participating in the tournament are CESAFI champions University of the Visayas, University of San Carlos (USC) and Southwestern University (SWU); Holy Trinity College of General Santos City; and National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities champion Centro Escolar University and St. Clare College.
SWU also participated in last year’s tournament.
FilOil tournament director Joey Guillermo said the addition of teams from the Visayas, Mindanao and NAASCU is part of a carefully orchestrated plan to expand the tournament across the archipelago.
“Our plans for expansion began last season when we invited SWU,” said Guillermo. “We saw how well they played towards the end of FilOil, and during the PCCL (Philippine Collegiate Champions League), where they defeated La Salle.”
“The exposure to top-flight competition helps. This year, we are continuing that expansion by not only adding new teams, but also taking the games out of town,” he added.
Reigning Filoil champion University of the East and UAAP champion La Salle will go on the road this May 22-25 to play matches in Cebu against the Cebu-based teams.
“If the provincial teams are excited to play in Manila, so are the Manila schools excited to show what they can do in Cebu,” said La Salle team manager Raffy Villavicencio about the road matches.
Felix “Donbel” Belano, a 10-year PBA pro who is known for his lengthy stint with Talk 'N Text, and is on his third year of coaching the USC Warriors, is excited about the upcoming FilOil tournament.
“Siguradong magiging malaking tulong sa team namin ang paglalaro sa FilOil, dahil we can gain exposure,” said Belano. “We will be able to gauge the competitiveness of our team against other teams, especially those belonging in the big collegiate leagues like the NCAA and UAAP.”
“It’s a big opportunity for our players to play against the best and most promising players from around the country,” he added.
Belano will count on two players who were instrumental in leading USC to last year’s CESAFI title to lead his Manila campaign: 5-foot-7 point guard John Abad, the CESAFI Finals MVP, and 6-foot-5 power forward Wowie Escosio, who became the first ever rookie/MVP of CESAFI in the 2012 season.
Holy Trinity Wildcats coach Pol Torrijos agrees with Belano’s outlook for the tournament.
“We are very honored to be invited to join FilOil. It will be a gauge not only for our team, but also for our program as we will play against the best from all over the country,” Torrijos said. “We have to learn from this experience. We will be fielding the team that was the Mindanao champion for the 2012 and 2013 PCCL.”
The pre-season collegiate basketball tournament is sponsored by Flying V, Filoil, Total, Hanes, San Miguel Corporation, Starmobile, Timex, Silverworks, Gatorade, LGR and in part by Meralco, BDO, Reyes Barbecue, Douwe Egberts, Gerry’s Grill, Brothers Burger, Molten, Bayo, Oxycan, BPI, PBCom, RFM, San Marino, Red Logo, and Bacchus Energy Drink.