THERE'S really nothing quite like being a champion, especially if one aspires to make it to the big leagues.
Having that winning tradition boosts one's stock once they make the jump, and that's why it's no surprise that players who have contributed to their school's triumph in both the UAAP and the NCAA make up the majority of those who made it to the pro ranks.
Just like in years past, Ateneo remains as the school with the lion's share of players in the opening-day rosters for the teams, boasting 20 players in tow.
The boys from Katipunan remained at the top of the list despite the retirements of Phoenix big man Doug Kramer and now NLEX assistant coach Emman Monfort, as well as the sudden sabbatical of Ginebra's Greg Slaughter.
How did the Blue Eagles keep their pole position? Easy. By having a bevy of rookies enter the league coming from coach Tab Baldwin's UAAP three-peat squad.
Also included in the list are the five players picked in the special Gilas draft, thus Isaac Go and twins Matt and Mike Nieto further boosted Ateneo's haul.
Ateneo may still be on top for several years now, but the gap sure is closing.
Far Eastern University once again seized second spot with 18 players, four more from last year's total with Arvin Tolentino, Richard Escoto, and Wendell Comboy all entering the league, and journeyman Jhaymo Eguilos making his return.
San Beda slid to third with 17, but added two more rookies this season in Clint Doliguez and AC Soberano.
Coming off an NCAA championship run, Letran made a big move for fourth with their total of 12 players as Jerrick Balanza, Bonbon Batiller, and Christian Balagasay joined their senior Knights now in the PBA.
La Salle also hiked its haul to 12 with the arrival of rookies Kib Montalbo and Prince Rivero as well as the return of Almond Vosotros and Papot Paredes making up for the retirements of Willy Wilson and Mike Cortez.
University of the East continued to slide on the list as it's now tied for sixth with National University, with both schools trotting 10 players each, while University of Santo Tomas dropped a peg despite still having eight players in the league.
Adamson and Arellano added two more players to their alumni list in the PBA to remain tied at ninth with seven players each, while San Sebastian dropped out of the top 10 as Calvin Abueva remained out of Phoenix Super LPG's roster no thanks to his continued indefinite suspension.
UP also has six players in the pro ranks, while Lyceum and Philippine Christian University have four players each. St. Clare also now has multiple PBA players to show, with Aris Dionisio and Chris Bitoon hiking their school's total to three.
Also being represented this 45th season is the University of San Carlos in NLEX rookie Will McAloney, who follows in the footsteps of PBA legend Ramon Fernandez. For the first time, the Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology (NEUST) has a PBA player in the person of San Miguel neophyte Daniel de Guzman.
Take a look at our full list of schools and the alumni who are flying their flag high and proud this season in Asia's first pro league:
1. Ateneo (20) - Japeth Aguilar, Aaron Black, Justin Chua, Nico Elorde, Poy Erram, Larry Fonacier, Isaac Go, Frank Golla, JC Intal, Chris Newsome, Matt Nieto, Mike Nieto, Von Pessumal, Kris Porter, Kiefer Ravena, Nico Salva, LA Tenorio, Juami Tiongson, Vince Tolentino, Adrian Wong
2. FEU (18) -- Mark Barroca, Mac Belo, Jeff Chan, Wendell Comboy, Carl Bryan Cruz, Ron Dennison, Barkley Ebona, Jhaymo Eguilos, Richard Escoto, Russel Escoto, RR Garcia, Raymar Jose, Roger Pogoy, Aldrech Ramos, Terrence Romeo, Arwind Santos, Arvin Tolentino, Mike Tolomia
3. San Beda (17) -- Baser Amer, Robert Bolick, Anjo Caram, Art dela Cruz, Rome dela Rosa, Clint Doliguez, Bambam Gamalinda, Garvo Lanete, Dave Marcelo, Jaypee Mendoza, Javee Mocon, Jake Pascual, Kyle Pascual, Davon Potts, Anthony Semerad, David Semerad, AC Soberano
T-4. Letran (12) -- Kevin Alas, Raymond Almazan, Christian Balagasay, Jerrick Balanza, Bonbon Batiller, JP Calvo, Bryan Faundo, RJ Jazul, Rey Nambatac, Rey Publico, Bong Quinto, Kevin Racal
T-4. La Salle (12) -- Yutien Andrada, Ryan Arana, JVee Casio, Kib Montalbo, Papot Paredes, Jason Perkins, LA Revilla, Prince Rivero, Jeron Teng, Norbert Torres, Abu Tratter, Almond Vosotros
T-6. UE (10) -- Mark Borboran, Nino Canaleta, Bong Galanza, Chris Javier, Paul Lee, Rey Suerte, Roi Sumang, Paul Varilla, James Yap, Paul Zamar
T-6. NU (10) -- Raymond Aguilar, Gelo Alolino, Jjay Alejandro, Reden Celda, Glenn Khobuntin, Marion Magat, Bobby Ray Parks, Jewel Ponferrada, Matt Salem, Troy Rosario
8. UST (8) -- Cyrus Baguio, Jervy Cruz, Ed Daquioag, Jeepy Faundo, Kevin Ferrer, Allein Maliksi, Aljon Mariano, Renzo Subido
T-9. Adamson (7) -- Rodney Brondial, Eric Camson, Val Chauca, Jericho Cruz, Sean Manganti, Jansen Rios, Don Trollano
T-9. Arellano (7) -- Keith Agovida, Michael Canete, Prince Caperal, Lervin Flores, Jio Jalalon, John Pinto, Kent Salado
T-11. San Sebastian (6) -- Allyn Bulanadi, Michael Calisaan, Alvin Capobres, Bradwyn Guinto, Michael Miranda, Ian Sangalang
T-11. UP (6) -- Diego Dario, Paul Desiderio, Mike Gamboa, Kyles Lao, Jay-R Reyes, Raul Soyud
T-13. PCU (4) -- Mike Ayonayon, Beau Belga, Jayson Castro, Jackson Corpuz
T-13. Lyceum (4) -- MJ Ayaay, Joseph Gabayni, Jaycee Marcelino, CJ Perez
15. St. Clare (3) -- Chris Bitoon, Aris Dionisio, Jammer Jamito
Cebu (2) -- June Mar Fajardo, Brian Heruela
CEU (2) -- Mon Abundo, Samboy de Leon
JRU (2) -- Philip Paniamogan, James Sena
Mapua (2) -- Kenneth Ighalo, Jessie Saitanan
PSBA (2) -- Vic Manuel, Marc Pingris
St. Benilde (2) -- Jonathan Grey, Paolo Taha
EAC (1) -- Sidney Onwubere
EARIST (1) -- Andreas Cahilig
Manila (1) -- Reynel Hugnatan
Mindanao (1) -- PJ Simon
NEUST (1) -- Daniel de Guzman
Perpetual (1) -- Scottie Thompson
San Carlos (1) -- Will McAloney
Colegio de San Lorenzo (1) -- Jonjon Gabriel
TIP (1) -- Jorey Napoles
Visayas (1) -- JR Quinahan
Like last season, the total for Fil-foreign players remained at 36 players from across 34 schools.
New additions include Columbian rookie Roosevelt Adams, who studied in Idaho, and Blackwater center Maurice Shaw, who went to Hutchinson Community College in Kansas.
Cal State Fullerton, with Marcio Lassiter and Ryan Reyes, and University of Hawaii at Manoa, with Christian Standhardinger and Jared Dillinger, both boast two alumni apiece.
Sol Mercado, who has yet to sign a contract with a PBA team, is the most notable omission on our list.
Here's our rundown of the players who studied abroad:
Cal State Fullerton (2) -- Marcio Lassiter, Ryan Reyes
Hawaii (2) -- Jared Dillinger, Christian Standhardinger
Bakersfield -- Billy Mamaril
BYU-Hawaii -- Asi Taulava
Cal Poly Pomona -- Matt Ganuelas-Rosser
Chadron State -- Mo Tautuaa
Coppin State -- Rafi Reavis
Eckerd -- Jay Washington
George Mason -- Gabe Norwood
Glendale Community College -- Mark Caguioa
Hawaii-Hilo -- Alex Cabagnot
Hope International -- Kris Rosales
Hutchinson Community College -- Maurice Shaw
Idaho -- Roosevelt Adams
James Cook -- Sonny Thoss
John Brown -- Abel Galliguez
Lewis-Clark State -- Alex Mallari
Marshall -- Chris Ross
McGill -- Sean Anthony
McKendree -- Mike DiGregorio
Minnesota -- Maverick Ahanmisi
Mount Olive -- Justin Melton
NDNU -- Simon Enciso
Oakland -- Kelly Williams
Penn State -- Stanley Pringle
Reedley -- Cliff Hodge
Sacramento State -- Trevis Jackson
San Francisco State -- Robbie Herndon
Seattle Pacific -- Chris Banchero
Sonoma State -- Harvey Carey
SRJC -- Kelly Nabong
SUNY-Old Westbury -- Rashawn McCarthy
St. Bonaventure -- Matthew Wright
UTEP -- Joe Devance