HOST St. Stephen’s High School hopes to end a long title drought as it battles St. Jude Catholic School ON Saturday at the start of the 43rd BonChon Chicken-Metro Manila Tiong Lian Basketball Association (MMTLBA) at the Chiang Kai Shek College gym in Manila.
The Stephenians are currently ranked No. 3 for the most number of titles in the premier Fil-Chinese league with eight, but have yet to reach the finals since winning their last championship in 2005.
Defending champion Chiang Kai Shek College distinguished itself as the most successful team in the now six-team field with 15 followed by Xavier School with 10. Uno High School did not take part this time.
School officials, led by its principal Judy Tan, sports moderator Lim En Peng and Board of Trustees member Gerald Chan, are hopeful they can revive their glory years starting this season with Pierce Chan and Kevin Ng spearheading the team’s campaign this time.
Tan, along with other school officials, will welcome a long line of guests led by Hon. Reymond Ong of the Taipei Economics and Cultural Office, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios, FCAAP president Alvin Tai Lian and BonChon Chicken owners Alex Tan and Scott Tan.
After the 12 noon opening game between St. Stephen’s and St. Jude, the host school will hold a simple opening ceremony starting at 1:30 p.m.
The Xavier Golden Stallions, who take on last year’s host Grace Christian College at 3 p.m., will be without superstar and three-time MVP Jeron Teng for the first time.
Teng, who was denied a fourth straight league championship after losing to the Blue Dragons in the semis, is now playing for the La Salle Archers in the UAAP.
With the departure of Finals MVP John Baytan and John Paul Nieles, the Blue Dragons will rely heavily on Carlo Young, Kimlee Bayquin and Joshua Tan when they tangle with Hope Christian High School at 4:30 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s finals.
Though the Dragons are the reigning titlists, the Hope Christians are the solid favorites for winning the inaugural Philippine Secondary School Basketball Championship (PSSBC) over formidable UAAP and NCAA squads, including San Beda, Far Eastern University, Ateneo, National University, Letran and San Sebastian College.