MANILA, Philippines -- University of the Philippines (UP) will open its title defense in UAAP Season 85 against De La Salle University on Saturday, October 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
UAAP president Fr. Aldrin Suan of host school Adamson University revealed the schedule for the opening weekend of the league during Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
The Soaring Falcons will open the season against the University of Santo Tomas at 2 p.m., with UP and La Salle capping the double-header at 4 p.m.
On Sunday, it will be University of the East vs. National University at 2 p.m., followed by Ateneo de Manila University vs. Far Eastern University at 4 p.m.
All eight teams will then be in action the following Wednesday, as the UAAP has to compress its schedule after a delayed start. The league will also give way to the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers in November. Because of this, the tournament will end on December 17 at the latest.
"We were given the schedule of that next window, November. I believe it's November 7-15. So ang last playing date namin is November 6, and we resume on the 16th," UAAP executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag explained.
"We normally try to avoid going deep into the Christmas season, but because of that, it's such a small sacrifice naman na aabot tayo, ang tingin namin ay mga December 17. So that's fine," he added.
A full schedule for the first round of the men's basketball tournament will be released in the coming days, according to Suan.
The UAAP will make use of the Mall of Asia Arena and the Araneta Coliseum as their primary venues for the basketball tournament, with the PhilSports Arena and the Ynares Center in Antipolo as alternate venues.
Suan also revealed that there will now be separate tickets for games between last season's finalists, UP and Ateneo. This will follow the ticketing set-up for the rivalry game between Ateneo and La Salle.
"Kung merong surge ng pandemic, ng mga infections, may surge ng fans sa UAAP. Kasi in the previous year, ang separate ticket namin 'pag La Salle at saka Ateneo," said Suan. "Ngayon, 'pag Ateneo at saka UP, separate ticket na rin."
UP dethroned Ateneo as UAAP champions in May to end a championship drought that has lasted over three decades. The thrilling finals series was capped by a buzzer-beating triple from JD Cagulangan as the Fighting Maroons won Game 3 in overtime.
Saguisag said he is expecting a similarly exciting tournament for Season 85.
"[It's] unpredictable," he said of the season. "And when you're unpredictable, kaakibat niyan ay excitement. So, we have a very exciting Season 85."