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Host UE tangles with UP; La Salle faces FEU
MANILA - UAAP fever is upon us and this week, it was more than alive with various schools holding their traditional pre-season pep rallies.
The hosts of Season 77, the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors, are first on tap to go up against the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons.
UE is one of the favored teams to compete hard for a Final 4 slot, with returning stars Roi Sumang and Charles Mammie.
The Red Warriors also have a new coach in Derrick Pumaren, who will bring the renowned defensive system of the Pumarens to UE."We have not made it to the Final 4 in the last four years and we have not won the championship in the last 30, 35 years, i think. so it's a big challenge for me and I'm ready to step up for the challenge," said Pumaren.
"Siguro gawin lang namin ang best namin. Gusto kong maka-Final 4 this year," said UE's Roi Sumang.
As for the Fighting Maroons, though they have six rookies, they promise not to be winless in Season 77.
In the second game on Saturday, the defending champs De La Salle Green Archers will go up against a new-look Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws.
FEU may have lost its two biggest stars, RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo, but the Tams are now exhibiting better chemistry and teamwork.
On Sunday, the Ateneo Blue Eagles will be up against the Adamson Falcons.
Ateneo has 5 blue-chip rookies, including Kiefer Ravena's younger brother, Thirdy.
Adamson, meanwhile, has a new coach who is one of the best to don a Falcons jersey, PBA legend Kenneth Duremdes.
"Looking forward for this coming 77 season... Ang importante sa players namin ay we went back to the fundamentals and then right now we're improving 'yung teamwork," said Duremdes.
The final game of opening weekend will pit last season's runners-up, the University of Sto. Tomas Growling Tigers against the National University Bulldogs.
Both lost their biggest stars -- Jeric Teng for UST, and Ray Parks for NU.
But the Tigers still have a lot of bite left with the return of Karim Abdul, Kevin Ferrer and Aljon Mariano.
NU will rely heavily on its foreign reinforcements Henry Betayen and Alfred Aroga.
Catch all the action of UAAP Season 77, live and exclusive on ABS-CBN Sports+Action Channel 23 with daily replays on Balls Channel on SkyCable.