SAN Beda begins its quest for a four-peat when the newest season of the NCAA tips off on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
James Canlas and Evan Nelle now hold the torch for the young Red Lions as they try to continue the winning tradition in Mendiola following the graduations of Robert Bolick and Javee Mocon.
"Expected na sa amin yung lumaban kami no matter how young the team is. I'm convinced naman na ready na ang mga players ko for the season," said coach Boyet Fernandez.
But the first hump on San Beda's road is a familiar face in Cholo Martin, who has been a longtime deputy with the Red Lions and has taken the head coaching job for hosts Arellano.
"Kung may nakakaalam man ng sikreto ng San Beda sa lahat ng coaches dito sa NCAA, siguro ako na yun," said the veteran mentor who holds more than 50 years of coaching experience, including a brief PBA run with Galerie Dominique Artists in 1983.
Martin's arrival also brings him full circle to the Chiefs, which he coached in 1982 in the NCRAA when they were still known as the Flaming Arrows
Kent Salado is also making his comeback with Arellano.
Final Four foes Lyceum and Letran will serve as the curtain raiser for the seniors' tournament at 2 p.m., following the opening ceremonies at 12 pm.
The Pirates will miss the services of Cameroonian big man Mike Nzeusseu, who is still nursing a jammed right index finger, leaving much of the load on the shoulders of Jaycee and Jayvee Marcelino.
That might also be the break the Knights need with Jerrick Balanza looking to start the year right with new head coach Bonnie Tan calling the shots.