DEFENDING champion Centro Escolar University begins the defense of its overall title when Season 44 of the Women's National Collegiate Athletic Association opens Saturday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.
After the 10 am opening ceremony of the country's first and only tri-level league for women, senior basketball champions Lady Scorpions start their campaign in a high noon match against last year's runner-up Rizal Technological University.
With this year’s theme, “Unitas in Sports", president Jose Maria Mariano of University of Asia and the Pacific said his whole school is excited to host the WNCAA for the first time.
"We expect the highest form of camaraderie and sportsmanship among all member schools and we are thankful for the privilege of hosting the WNCAA," said Mariano.
The second game features a collision between Philippine Women's University and Miriam College in another seniors clash.
Host UA&P begged off from first-day action since some of its players are still recovering from dengue fever.
St. Paul College Pasig will go against La Salle College Antipolo in the lone juniors game at 3 p.m.
Aside from last season’s basketball crown, CEU also bagged the seniors' championships in volleyball, taekwondo and cheerleading to clinch the overall title.
Not to be discounted, the RTU Lady Thunders garnered first place finishes in senior futsal and table tennis the previous season.
Miriam College bagged the overall juniors crown, ruling over basketball, volleyball, badminton and taekwondo.
Rene Ledesma, UA&P's director for student affairs, assured a competitive season for all participants.
"We always give it our best shot in every game and we hope to compete well again," said Ledesma.
Volleyball competition will start on Aug. 11 followed by futsal on Aug. 25. Badminton, swimming, table tennis, tennis, taekwondo and a new event, softball will be played in the second semester.
As the league turns 45 next year, executive director Ma. Vivian Manila said they plan to add beach volleyball, dance sports and football to their regular events.
"It will be a real achievement when the WNCAA reaches its 45th season so we hope to try some new events," Manila said.
AksyonTV will air the complete opening day on Aug. 13 starting at 7 p.m. as well as the cheerleading competition, which is slated February 2014.
Weekly highlights of all events will also be telecast, according to TV5 sports manager Vito Lazatin.
Rounding out the 17 participating schools in the WNCAA are Angelicum, Assumption, Chiang Kai Shek, 43rd season overall midgets champion De La Salle Zobel, La Consolacion Manila, San Beda Alabang, St. Jude Catholic School, Poveda, St. Scholastica’s College and St.Stephen’s High School.