THE UNTV Cup opens its sixth season with Philippine National Police (PNP) out to launch its title-retention bid on a high note at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Led by former University of the East player Olan Omiping and ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) veteran Harold Sta. Cruz, the PNP Responders outlasted the Malacanang Kamao in a three-game title series to finally raise the championship trophy for the first time after three failed attempts.
PNP’s P4-million prize last season went to the Police Community Relations Group ‘Drug Rehabilitation Program.’
Though House of Representatives, Bureau of Customs and Metro Manila Development Authority have begged off from taking part this season, UNTV president and CEO Daniel Razon is convinced the title race will be more exciting with the entry of Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Commission of Audit.
“The more teams, the merrier,” said Razon who put up the league to encourage the country’s public servants to take a healthy lifestyle.
Before the start of the opening ceremony, there will be a drawing of lots among 13 to determine the team that face the Responders.
Razon and BMPI-UNTV Vice president for administration Gerry Panghulan are expected to welcome officials and players of all participating teams during the ceremony.
Like last year, the champion in the 14-team cagefest, according to Razon, will receive P4 million while the second and fourth placers get P2M, P1M, and P500,000, respectively. The fifth to last placer will get P100,000.
All the prize money that they will win in the Sunday-only tournament will go to their chosen charities.
Out to foil PNP’s back-to-back bid are two-time champions Judiciary and Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Other teams taking part are Malacañang-Philippine Sports Commission, Bureau of Fire Protection, National Housing Authority, Government Service Insurance System, Department of Justice, Office of the Ombudsman, and Senate.