THE rematch between reigning titlist Chiang Kai Shek College and last year's losing finalist Hope Christian High School highlights the opening of the BonChon Chicken-Metro Manila Tiong Lian Basketball Association (MMTLBA) on Saturday at the CKSC gym in Manila.
Bannered by Joshua Tan and Al Salim, the Blue Dragons will be seeking their 16th title in the country’s premier Fil-Chinese schools league when they clash with the Hope Christians at 4:30 p.m. in a game expected to be as furious and exciting as their title showdown last year.
In sweeping the heavy favorite Hope Christians in their best-of-three title series, the Blue Dragons of Goldwin Monteverde became the first No. 3 seeded team to win the crown in recent years.
The Blue Dragons have long dominated the league until Xavier School stamped its class to become the most successful team in the last decade.
The Golden Stallions, who were stunned by the Blue Dragons in the semis, open their title quest against Grace Christian College at 3 p.m., while St. Stephen’s High School, this year’s host, collides with St. Jude Catholic School in the opening game of the six-team tournament.
The league, now on its 43rd season, is presented by BonChon Chicken and backed by Solar Basketball TV, Molten, and Summit Water.
As host squad, the Stephenians have trained long and hard to contend against league giants like CKSC, Hope Christian and Xavier.
St. Stephen’s school officials, led by its principal Judy Tan and sports moderator Lim Em Peng, have prepared a short but meaningful opening ceremony to be graced by officials of the Fil-Chinese community and Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP).
“We expect another exciting race for the championship,” said Lim. “While Chiang Kai Shek remains the title favorite, there are teams determined to unseat them.”
Lim cited the recent achievement of Hope Christian which became the first champion team of the Philippine Secondary Schools Basketball Championships (PSSBC) last month by beating the teams from UAAP and NCAA.
In winning the PSSBC crown, the Hope Christians, led by Clint Doliquez ande Jollo Go, downed the San Sebastian Staglets in a one-game face-off.