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    CEU, Diliman College, five others battle for title in UCBL fifth season

    Nov 7, 2022
    The UCBL's fifth season features seven teams.

    CENTRO Escolar University and Diliman College lead the seven teams who will compete in the return of the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) with Season 5 opening on Thursday at the Paco Arena.

    The Scorpions and the Blue Dragons will join Olivarez College, University of Batangas, Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas, Philippine Christian University-Dasmarinas, and newcomer Guang Ming College as the collegiate league returns after a nearly three-year hiatus during the pandemic.

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    Diliman College defeated Olivarez College in the last finals series held in November 2019, before the league was forced to shut down due to the pandemic, but CEU is being hailed a favorite in the this PG Flex Linoleum-UCBL Season 5 presented by Vespa, while Diliman College is also seen as a threat, being the two-time defending champions of the league.

    “We are excited but we are actually a little nervous because of the three-year hiatus,” said UCBL president Franklin Evidente. “It’s like we are starting all over again. It’s like our inaugural year all over again.”

    “After the inaugural year, the second year, the third year, things were like clockwork. We knew what to expect. We knew what to do. We anticipated the problems. But now, starting fresh is a new thing for us again,” said Evidente.


      Under new head coach Chico Manabat, the Scorpions are being tagged as one of the title contenders due to their busy preseason build-up where they competed in the PBA D-League and the UCBL Invitational, which also drew four teams from the UAAP and four teams in the NCAA.


      “’Yun siguro ‘yung big shoes to fill in since Derick Pumaren, Jeff Napa. ‘Yun talaga ‘yung binibuild nila sa CEU. Eto naman, bagong mga players ang dinala ko dito, and the system, nagbuy-in naman sila. Excited ako this season sa UCBL. Marami akong natutunan sa mga good coaches dito,” said Manabat.

      Diliman College coach Rensy Bajar said, with CEU’s presence and other teams also preparing, it will be a difficult task for his team to regain the title.

      “Malaking challenge ito para sa amin siguro. Nakita ko ang CEU, nakapag-prepare talaga sila from D-League and preseason. Ngayon, medyo ‘yun ang nakikita ko is malaking challenge for us this coming season. But we will try our best to play hard,” said Bajar.

      Olivarez College has recently promoted Stephen Mopera as head coach with the Sea Lions looking to finally break into the finals after a couple of close calls under previous mentor Myk Saguiguit, who also installed Mopera to take over for this season.

      University of Batangas, Lyceum-Batangas, and PCU-Dasmarinas are leaning on its players from their high school program in order to contend for the title. UB and LPU-Batangas will still have Arnold Contorno and Dan Acero calling the shots for their respective teams, while PCU-Dasmarinas has also installed a new head coach in Johnny Belandrez.

      An intriguing team is Guang Ming College, whose sports program is headed by former University of the Philippines coach Bo Perasol, with former Maroons cager Moriah Gingerich serving as the head coach.

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      The UCBL's fifth season features seven teams.
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