CHIANG Kai Shek College begins its bid for back-to-back titles against La Salle Greenhills as the 5th Philippine Secondary Schools Basketball Championship (PSSBC) MEC Network Cup kicks off with a four-game card on Saturday at the SGS gym in Quezon City.
The Blue Dragons face the Greenies at 12:30 p.m. as they begin their quest to retain the title in the tournament that features top high schools teams from the UAAP, NCAA and the FCAAF.
CKSC ruled last year’s edition after stunning La Salle-Zobel, 85-82, in the one-game face-off.
Bannered by former Batang Gilas mainstays Jonas Tibayan and John Galinato and rising stars Sam Bañes and Maguel Oczon, CKSC remains the title-favorite in the competition backed by league chairman Leoncio Chua (MEC Network), Dioceldo Sy (Blackwater), Rudy Yu (Dickies Underwear),Terry Que (Poly Gloss Automotive Polyurethane System), Jimi Lim (Ironcon Builders), Cecilio Pedro (Hapee Toothpaste), Eduard Tio (Freego), and Jimmy dela Cruz’s Ché Lu Bar & Grill.
The league, which officially opens Sunday at the newly-refurbished CKSC gym, got a big boost recently with the support of Mighty Sports.
Also backing the event are Choi Garden, Hanabishi, Davies Paints, Molten, and Philippine Airlines.
“With some of the country’s best teams participating, we expect exciting games leading up to the championship,” said Chua, whose company serves as the tournament’s title sponsor.
Returning Gilas coach Chot Reyes, Gilas team manager Butch Antonio and several players from Rain or Shine and Blackwater will grace the opening ceremony.
The champion team receives P50,000, the runner-up P30,000, while the third placer gets P20,000.
NCAA champion Mapua faces St. Stephen’s at 2:15 p.m. while former champions San Beda and Hope Christian open hostilities at 9 a.m. Arellano University, on the other hand, battles Manila Patriotic School at 10:45 a.m.
The opening ceremonies of the tournament is set Sunday at the Chiang Kai Shek campus in Manila, with Gilas coach Reyes serving as special guest of the simple rites that also features the parade of teams.
UAAP teams composed of its reigning titleholder National University, La Salle Zobel, Adamson and FEU-Diliman make their debut tomorrow.
The top four teams in each of the four groups advance to the knockout quarterfinals.
Games on Saturday
(SGS gym, Q.C.)
9 a.m. – San Beda vs Hope Christian HS
10:45 a.m. – Arellano vs MPS
12:30 p.m. – LSGH vs CKSC
2:15 p.m. – Mapua vs St. Stephen’s