MANILA, Philippines - A bumper crop of rookies get the chance to show their wares in the 2013 FilOil Flying V Pre-season tournament which unfurls Saturday at The Arena in San Juan City.
Reigning UAAP champion Ateneo will parade Fil-Am Chris Newsome but may opt to sit out Jerie Pingoy, who is the central figure in the controversial UAAP rule change of a two-year residency on rookie transferees, when it clashes with Cebu titlist and guest team Southwestern U at 6 p.m.
Cameroonian Alfred Arogo and former national youth team skipper JJ Alejandro will debut for National U, the defending champion, as it squares off with NCAA king San Beda in the 2 p.m. opener.
La Salle's Kib Montalbo from Bacolod will also be the player to watch but not recent acquisition Ben Mbala, a Cameroonian picked up from SWU, because of residency rules requiring him to undergo a two-year residency before he could play. The Archers battle the UST Tigers at 4 p.m.
Other newcomers to watch out for are Adamson's Axel Inigo, Letran's Rey Nambatac, University of the East's Charles Mamie of Cameroon and Mario Bonleon, Jr., and State U's Joseph Marata, formerly of La Salle.
A new feature this season is the Master Game Face All Star Basketball Challenge with Chris Tiu and Borgie Hermida handling the two teams composed of best college players from the 18 competing schools.
Fans will vote for the starting rosters of Tiu and Hermida's respective squads. They will then choose the 13 reserves who will compose their final rosters. Voting can be done via Facebook.com/MastersPhilippines starting April 17.
Meanwhile, focus will also be on new coaches San Beda's Boyet Fernandez, Ateneo's Bo Perasol, Far Eastern U's Nash Racela, Letran's Caloy Garcia and St. Benilde's Gabby Velasco.
Fernandez took over from Ronnie Magsanoc, Perasol from now Talk N' Text mentor Norman Black, Racela from Bert Flores, Garcia from now Alaska assistant coach Louie Alas and Velasco from Richard del Rosario.
San Sebastian's Topex Robinson, meanwhile, is back with the Stags after resigning midway in last year's NCAA season.
Group A will comprise of NCAA champ San Beda, Perpetual Help, National U, Far Eastern U, Adamson, State U, St. Benilde and Jose Rizal while Ateneo, La Salle, Santo Tomas, University of the East, San Sebastian, Letran, Lyceum, Arellano U, SWU and Emilio Aguinaldo make up Group B.
The event is staking a top purse worth P400,000 for the champion and P150,000 and P75,000 for the second and third placers, respectively.