NATIONAL University and University of the East open Season 80 of the UAAP basketball tournament on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Bulldogs and the Red Warriors square off at 2 p.m. right after the opening ceremonies to usher in the new season of the league with a theme ‘Go For Great.’
"There will be a lot of excited and eager players because it's opening day," said NU coach Jamike Jarin. "The team that would settle down right away will have the advantage."
Jarin will perhaps be battling first game jitters as well, as he will be coaching in the UAAP seniors basketball for the first time, having accepted the NU post after guiding San Beda to the NCAA title in 2016.
"The team that will execute on offense and play hardnosed but smart defense will probably win on opening day," said Jarin.
Expected to lead the way for the Bulldogs this season are J-Jay Alejandro, Issa Gaye and Matt Salem, who are looking to make amends after missing the Final Four in Season 79.
Meanwhile, the Red Warriors hope to start Season 80 on a high note after winning just three games last year.
UE coach Derrick Pumaren said they have to come out with a lot of intensity as they lost to NU in the championship game of a preseason tournament during their build-up.
"We have to be ready for NU. We played them in the finals. We got blown out and got dominated by NU," said Pumaren.
Alvin Pasaol is expected to be the go-to-guy for the UE this season, with Bonbon Batiller transferring to Letran during the offseason.