THE Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) opens its fourth season on September 5 at the Olivarez College Gym in Parañaque City.
Diliman College is set to defend its title against seven other schools, namely Centro Escolar University, Technological Institute of the Philippines, Olivarez College, Lyceum of the Philippines-Batangas, University of Batangas, Philippine Christian University-Dasmarinas, and newcomer National College of Business and Arts.
“Nobody expected us to be the champions last year,” said Diliman College assistant coach Nilo Dela Cerna, representing head coach Rensy Bajar during Thursday’s press conference at the Hotel H20.
“Rest assured sa Diliman community and UCBL, we will give our best to defend our tile and hopefully, God willing, we can also win the championship back-to-back this year," added Dela Cerna, who bared the team will have nine rookies in the lineup this year.
Following the 12 noon opening ceremony, PCU-Dasmarinas faces UB at 1 p.m., while Olivarez battles inaugural champion CEU at 3 p.m. to start off the season also backed by PG Flex Linoleum.
The Blue Dragons, meanwhile, open their season on September 9 against PCU-Dasmarinas at 4 p.m. following the matches between LPU-B versus NCBA, and UB against TIP.
The games will be shown on livestream in the league’s Facebook page. Solar Sports will also show the games from Monday to Saturday at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
UCBL president Franklin Evidente said the league continues to focus on its goal of giving exposure to school teams outside the scope of the UAAP and NCAA.
“Our vision is that in the near future, and I think we are in good track, we will be at par with the top leagues or even exceed them. It’s ambitious but we are optimistic. The organization can’t do it alone. We need partnerships and we’ve seen the partnership that we have since Season One,” said Evidente.
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) head of traffic Bong Nebrija, the special guest during the press conference, wished the league all the best in its endeavor.
“It brings hope for everyone especially for the youth. Not everyone is given a chance to play in the two premier leagues because they are already full. We are glad that we have companies who are willing to sponsor the league who have players that can become professional basketball players and maybe represent us in the basketball competitions internationally,” said Nebrija.