CURRENT and former champions battle as the 4th Philippine Secondary Schools Basketball Championship (PSSBC) Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Cup begins on Saturday at the San Beda College gym.
Out to become the first back-to-back champion, San Beda collides with inaugural champion Hope Christian High School at 10:45 a.m. with both teams looking to kick off their title drives on a high note in the event that gathered some of the finest high school teams in Metro Manila.
“The chase for the bragging rights as the best high school team starts today and we are excited to host the event hoping we can help discover future members of Gilas Pilipinas from this tournament,” said league chairman and Jumbo Plastic Linoleum owner Jimmy dela Cruz.
While games start on Saturday, the opening ceremony will be held on Sunday with GlobalPort star Terrence Romeo and Gilas coach Tab Baldwin as special guests.
“We want to help inspire these young players so we decided to invite Romeo and Baldwin,” said Terry Que, co-owner of Rain or Shine and league vice chairman.
Also going for big starts in the event sponsored by MEC Networks, Freego, Dickies Undewear, Blackwater Sports, Hapee Toothpaste and Ironcon Builders with Molten as official ball are Mapua of the NCAA and Xavier of Filipino-Chinese Athletic Association of the Federation.
The Mapua Red Robins and the multi-titled Chiang Kai Shek College Blue Dragons open hostilities when they clash at 9 a.m. while the Xavier Stallions test the mettle of the Arellano University Braves at 2:15 p.m.
Bannered by the high-scoring Kenneth Villapando, Manila Patriotic School is also aiming for a flying start when it takes on Lyceum at 12:30 p.m.
Expected to spearhead San Beda’s title campaign is Sam Abuhijle who is likely to be pitted against Philippine Under-16 standout Harvey Pagsanjan while Tyler Tio and Kyle Ong are touted as the 1-2 punch of the Stallions.
Also out to impress are Mapua’s Mike Enriquez, La Salle-Zobel’s Aljun Melecio, Arellano’s Guilmer dela Torre, Adamson’s Denzel Sabroso, Far Eastern University’s Kenji Roman and University of Santo Tomas’ Clark Ballada.
The CKSC Blue Dragons will bank heavily on the troika of Jonas Tibayan, Gershom Montes and Joshua Ramirez of Chiang Kai Shek.