MANILA, Philippines – The University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) will open its diamond anniversary edition on July 14 with a traditional basketball doubleheader following colorful ceremonies at the newly-opened Mall of Asia Arena.
Dubbed “Unbreakable at 75,” this year’s UAAP will be hosted by National University.
“It will be NU versus UE and UST against FEU during our July 14 opening at the MOA,” said UAAP president Nilo Ocampo of host NU during Tuesday’s PSA forum at the Shakey’s UN Avenue branch in Manila.
Fierce UAAP rivals, La Salle and defending champion Ateneo, take on separate foes the succeeding day, Ocampo said, with the Green Archers facing the UP Maroons while the Blue Eagles tackle the Adamson University Falcons also at the same venue.
“We chose the theme ‘Unbreakable at 75’ not only because we are celebrating 75 years of the league but also we hope to follow up on what Ateneo did as the previous host last year by putting up another enduring and glittering show,” added Ocampo in the session sponsored by Smart, Shakey’s and PAGCOR.
He said the Bulldogs, under second-year coach Eric Altamirano and led by do-it-all guard Bobby Ray Parks Jr., will be going all out to make it to the championship after winding up a disappointing fifth place in last year’s Season 74.
“I believe that NU has gained maturity having been together for a year. My son, Bobby Jr., also understands coach Eric’s system now so the Bulldogs are definitely a better team,” noted coach Bobby Parks Sr., who is an NU consultant and was also a forum guest.
The UAAP chief said that tapped as the basketball tournament commissioner is veteran mentor Ato Badolato, adding that they will produce a technical manual that will detail the rules and regulations of the cage competitions “which the league has not done in quite a while.”
“Badolato’s instructions are to monitor the games closely to prevent brawls and bench-clearing incidents,” Ocampo said.
At least 60 percent of the basketball matches will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena while the rest will be played at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, he said, with the league continuing the practice of selling separate tickets for expected sellout La Salle-Ateneo matches.
Ocampo said that aside from men’s basketball, considered the league’s centerpiece, they hope to woo fans in watching other disciplines, pointing out that women’s volleyball has also generated a popular following among UAAP supporters and enthusiasts.
“There are other interesting sports worth watching like volleyball and we hope fans would watch them more on top of our basketball games,” he said.
The UAAP will stick to its usual first and second semester calendar with no new additional sports scheduled, Ocampo said.